While currency issues with China absorbed most of the air in Washington this week, we turned our attention to this Bloomberg story that reported on the “the increasing use of Chinese-made active ingredients in drugs taken by U.S. troops and civilians.”
This story brings many of the concerns we have raised over the last several months into sharp relief. By capping drug prices, proposals like the International Pricing Index would stifle innovation in the United States and allow for China’s growing dominance in drug manufacturing, which, as the article explained, already has been deemed a “national security threat” by the Pentagon. The article also reminds us of the safety concerns associated with drug importation. We have explained that a large percentage of drugs sold in Canada were not made there. With drugs from China “contaminated with rocket fuel,” U.S. patients simply should not be asked to bear the risk of importation.
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Patrick O’Connor – Executive Director
Rosemarie Calabro Tully – Communications Director
TWEETS OF THE WEEK
- If we were to cut out “the multibillion-dollar #drug rebates that health insurers demand from drug manufacturers in return for placement on the formulary lists of drugs they cover,” @HHSGov estimates that #prescriptiondrug prices would decrease by ~1/3. https://bit.ly/33khdu5 Click here to RT.
- Just like @AstraZeneca’s CEO Pascal Soriot, we also believe that “the [#healthcare] system has to change,” but in a way that doesn’t thwart #innovation or restrict #patient access to necessary care. Via @foxbusiness: link: https://fxn.ws/31nxwEv Click here to RT.
- #Drugprices reflect the long road to get an innovative treatment to market. As Nkarta Therapeutics CEO Paul Hastings writes, “My company has yet to earn a dollar in profit but every member of my team cares deeply about innovating on behalf of #patients.” https://bit.ly/2ymgdHl Click here to RT.
THE STORIES THAT DIDN’T GET ENOUGH ATTENTION
Check out and share on Twitter our latest blog posts:
- ICER To Parents: “That’s Why You Don’t Have A Vote.” At a recent meeting, the Institute for Clinical and Economic Review told parents of children with muscular dystrophy that it would not be “fair” for them to have a vote about a potential treatment’s value. That begs the question: why does ICER have a say? Click here to read the full blog post. Share on Twitter here.
- The Worth Of A Thing Is What It Will Bring. There’s an English proverb that reminds us, “The worth of a thing is what it will bring.” For patients with debilitating or life-threatening diseases, it’s hard to put a “worth” on breakthrough medicines that “bring” them better health. Value assessments are often insufficient. Click here to read the full blog post. Share on Twitter here.
- With Rebate Rule Gone, Patients Will Suffer. the Trump administration has killed a draft regulation that would have ensured that the millions of dollars in rebates that drug manufacturers provide to pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs) via Medicare are passed on to consumers. Axios called the news “very good news for insurers and PBMs.” It obviously is not good news for patients. Click here to read the full blog post. Share on Twitter here.
WHAT WE’RE READING
- How Pharmacy Benefit Managers Deny Cancer Patients Their Doctor-Recommended Treatments. The Fresno Bee explains how a pharmacy benefit manager (PBM) denied one cancer patient their prescribed drug “because they didn’t follow the standard protocol sequence of medications” the PBM outlined. The Bee concludes “that means pharmacy benefit managers have the authority to trump a doctor’s medical judgment without seeing patients or knowing their full medical history, and without accountability for the consequences of what happens to sick people.”
- Due to Safety Concerns, Pharmacists Oppose Drug Importation Plan. According to Pharmacy Times, the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP) said President Donald Trump’s plan to explore drug importation “misses the mark and is unlikely to result in significant cost savings for patients.” Tom Kraus, the organization’s vice president of government relations, said, “Importation jeopardizes patient safety while failing to address the causes of high drug prices.”
- Canadian Industry Warns Government Must Prepare For Drug Shortages. Reuters reports Canada's pharmaceutical lobby, Innovative Medicines Canada, is pushing the federal government to act quickly to prevent drug shortages as the U.S. weighs drug importation as a method to reduce domestic prices, according to documents viewed by a media organization.
- Reciprocity – An Alternative To Importation And Price Controls. In a column syndicated by the Los Angeles Times and that appeared in several newspapers, Pacific Research Institute Senior Fellow Henry I. Miller and attorney John J. Cohrssen argue, “Most previous attempts by the Trump administration and legislators have involved some form of price controls, which inhibit innovation and spur workarounds by industry. If Trump is committed to reducing drug prices and increasing availability, establishing reciprocity in regulatory decisions would be a good way to get there.”
- Health Insurance Costs Eating Up More Of Americans’ Take-Home Pay. Axios reports, “Employers consider a block of compensation for every employee. Health insurance, which is exempt from taxes, has eaten up a lot more of that block over time. In 1999, the average health insurance coverage for a family consumed 14% of the average household income, according to inflation-adjusted figures from the Census Bureau and the Kaiser Family Foundation. By 2017, family coverage absorbed more than double that amount, to about 31% of take-home pay.”
QUOTATION OF THE WEEK
RetireSafe President Mark Gibbons, writing in Morning Consult:
“Freedom of choice is a critical right that empowers mature Americans to advocate for their access to the health care they deserve, as well as encourages self-reliance and personal accountability. It is critical that the administration realizes that beneficiaries deserve better than a proposal that would force foreign price structures on our already successful Medicare program and dramatically affect the health and well-being of mature Americans for years to come.”