Welcome To The Week In Review.
1. HELP Is On The Way
- The Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee is continuing to gather input in advance of their now-delayed markup on drug price legislation. The markup is expected to examine legislation focused on spurring generic drug entry, closing regulatory loopholes used by big drug companies to block competition, and reforming specific practices of Pharmacy Benefit Managers (PBMs). Chairman Bernie Sanders, in his latest effort to hold Big Pharma accountable, also says he plans to call the chief executives of the world’s leading insulin manufacturers (Eli Lilly, Novo Nordisk, and Sanofi) to testify before the Committee. “Democrats continue to push measures to lower prices after passing legislation that allows Medicare to negotiate prices, penalizes price inflation, and caps seniors’ annual drug costs,” STAT reported. Keep it up, Congress – we look forward to fighting together for further reforms when you return from recess on Monday. — (Politico, Axios, STAT, STAT)
2. More Money In Patients’ Pockets Thanks To The Inflation Reduction Act
- The Inflation Reduction Act is already helping millions of people on Medicare— and members of Congress are spreading the word. At a community center in Atlanta, Secretary of Health and Human Services Xavier Becerra and Senator Jon Ossoff highlighted how “a senior in Georgia will now save between $500 and $600 a year” because of the Inflation Reduction Act which “will also provide free vaccines to seniors for illnesses like the flu or shingles.” Congressman Ruben Gallego also celebrated that the new drug price law will help more than 28,000 Arizonians “save about $500 per year on their insulin,” and Senator Debbie Stabenow and Representative Hillary Scholten held a press conference in Grand Rapids, Michigan explaining the relief that the Inflation Reduction Act will provide for seniors. Looking ahead, the new law will continue to help more people on Medicare as the rest of the provisions are implemented. Yesterday, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) closed the public comment period on its March draft of the Medicare drug price negotiation program guidance and will release final guidance in July. The agency is focused on closing potential loopholes that drug companies could use to avoid negotiation. Not so fast pharma — CMS is making sure its new negotiation authority will bring as much benefit to patients in relation to as many drugs as possible. ? — (Cure Today, Coastal Point, 11alive, Forbes, Fox17, Reuters, Bloomberg)
3. No Innovation Found Here
- In the latest example of drug company shady shenanigans, one biotech company is making millions price gouging patients without ever inventing a drug. Horizon Therapeutics, along with the previous manufacturers, raised the price of gout drug Krystexxa almost every year since it came to market. Without making any changes to improve the drug, the company now charges about 10 times as much as the price of the drug when it came to market in 2011 — so six months of treatment can currently be more than $400,000. Now, the company is cashing in again by selling to pharma giant Amgen. Tim Walbert, Horizon’s CEO, who will reportedly receive around $135 million when the deal closes, “has mastered a particular kind of industry expertise: taking drugs invented and tested by other people, wrapping them expertly in hard-nosed marketing and warm-hued patient relations, raising their prices, and enjoying astounding revenues,” KFF reported. Patients deserve investments in true innovation, not spending on marketing ploys on ineffective old drugs. — (KFF)
Have a great weekend, everyone!