The Alliance

The Weekly Dose | 02.14.20

February 14, 2020 2:21 pm

Happy Valentine’s Day! In schools all over the country today, many children are enjoying classroom parties and plenty of chocolate. The atmosphere is carefree. But, according to Focus for Health, more than one-quarter of U.S. children live with chronic health conditions that affect their daily lives, including whether they are able to attend school.


We can change this. According to a new report released this week, there are more than 2,100 industry-sponsored pediatric clinical trials underway, testing 580 investigational medicines. These include a therapy that could potentially be a one-time treatment for sickle cell disease and one could treat asthma in children younger than 12.


No child should have to suffer and miss out on one of the most fun days of the year. If you need more info for a story, or have questions, please email us. We look forward to working with you.


We look forward to working with you.



Patrick O’Connor – Executive Director

Rosemarie Calabro Tully – Communications Director




- Canada has a population 1/9 the size of the U.S. and is already suffering from severe drug shortages. #Drug #importation further reduces Canada's drug supply, threatens American #patients and provides us with negligible #healthcare savings. Via @business: Click here to RT.  


- Regional grocery stores are increasingly selling off/shutting down their pharmacies, the @WSJ reports. Read how @CVSHealth & @Walgreens are capturing the market and providing payouts not to patients, but to #insurers & #PBMs in the form of massive rebates: Click here to RT.


- We’ve discussed at length how the spread-pricing model, albeit beneficial for #PBMs, actually contributes to high #healthcare costs. So, we’re encouraged to see states like Oklahoma tackle #drugprices without sacrificing #innovation in the process. Click here to RT.




Check out and share on Twitter our latest blog posts:


- Arnolds’ $60 Million In Gasoline Fuels Push For Reference Pricing. John and Laura Arnold have bankrolled several projects that promote reference pricing, which uses average or competitors’ prices to control the cost of a product. Its current iterations include the Trump administration’s proposed international pricing index (IPI) rule and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s Average International Market Price. We look at those efforts. Click here to read the full blog post.


- Drug-Pricing Proposals Should Worry Patients Looking for a Cure. Whether it’s through stripping important patents, imposing foreign reference pricing or placing arbitrary limits on drug prices, certain policy proposals threaten to smother innovation and reduce access to lifesaving care, leaving #patients worse-off. Click here to read the full blog post. Share on Twitter here.


- A Conversation About QALY. The Wall Street Journal reported this week that the Institute for Clinical and Economic Review’s discriminatory #QALY is gaining traction on Capitol Hill. While we've said it before, we'll say it again: the decision to save a life with medical #innovation is not one for a "little-known Boston nonprofit" to make. Click here to read the full blog post. Share on Twitter here.




- Physician: Insurance Companies Have No Place Practicing Medicine. In a column at Morning Consult, Dr. Debra Patt explains how health insurers use step therapy—to the detriment of patients. Patt says: “Every day in medical practices around the country, more and more health care providers like me are finding ourselves hamstrung over what’s best for our patients — thanks to a new policy from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to allow Medicare Advantage plans to utilize ‘step therapy’ for Part B drugs. When this controversial policy was first announced, Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar predicted step therapy wouldn’t be a significant issue for patients with cancer; however, that has proven to be far from the reality now that the policy is firmly in place.” Click here to read one of our blog posts on step therapy.


- Insurers Denying Care—Even When It Was Pre-Approved. Kaiser Health News looks at health insurers’ use of prior authorization, and how the organizations are denying care even when patients have gotten pre-approval for it. The article says retrospective denial “is generating attention and anger from patients and providers, as insurers require preapproval — sometimes called ‘prior authorization’ — for a widening array of procedures, drugs and tests. While prior authorization was traditionally required only for expensive, elective or new procedures … some insurers now require it for even the renewal of some prescription drugs. Those preapprovals are frequently time-limited.”


- Cancer Patients Would Have Been Worse Off With International Pricing Mechanisms. At IndeOnline, Andrew Quinlan, co-founder and president of the Center for Freedom and Prosperity, explains “One analysis reported that if the United States used drug-pricing mechanisms similar to those used by Australia, Canada, France, South Korea, and the United Kingdom (three of which are included in the proposed International Pricing Index), then for U.S. patients diagnosed with certain types of cancer, “aggregate survival gains (i.e., gains in life years) due to innovative medicines would have been cut in half.”


- Scholars: ICER Model Might Be Illegal In The United States. According to a new report by the Pioneer Institute, the method of cost-benefit analysis used by the Arnold-funded Institute for Economic and Clinical Review (ICER) might be illegal in the United States. In fact, the report concludes that, “if adopted by state Medicaid programs to determine medical treatment value and access,” these mechanisms “would violate” the Americans with Disability Act.


- New Treatment Could Help Individuals With Peanut Allergies. The Washington Post reports the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved the first drug to treat peanut allergies. The treatment, called Palforzia, will not eliminate the allergy, but will make it more manageable. Dr. Jonathan Spergel, chief of the Allergy Program at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia told The Huffington Post: “For peanut allergies, the treatment has always been avoidance. Just avoid, avoid, avoid — and then use epinephrine for when you have anaphylaxis. … This therapy is a big deal because it’s the first treatment beyond avoidance.”




There is growing recognition in the states that tying U.S. drug prices to prices in other countries will harm American patients. In the San Antonio Express-News, Tony Bennett, president of the Texas Association of Manufacturers, wrote:


“Proposals that allow government price setting are not the way to cut health-care costs. It’s anti-business and, worse, anti-patient. Instead of diminishing patient access to cutting-edge drugs, lawmakers should adopt plans that would share cost reductions and rebates with patients, and promote value-based payments. Those and other commonsense strategies will make health care more affordable and accessible, while H.R. 3 and similar proposals from some in the Senate will not. I encourage every member of the Texas congressional delegation to oppose these proposals.”


In the Detroit News, Kent Kaiser, senior adviser to the Trade Alliance to Promote Prosperity, wrote:


“The best way to lower consumer drug prices is to encourage a competitive marketplace, not to impose more government intervention in drug pricing. Improving approval processes at the FDA would enable drugs to enter the marketplace faster. It currently takes a decade or more to obtain FDA approval for new drugs and generics and costs billions of dollars to obtain the data necessary to obtain approval.”