Drugmakers Have Long Insisted Reports On Skyrocketing Rates Don’t Take Into Account Rebates. Study Shows It Doesn’t Matter.
Read about the biggest pharmaceutical development and pricing stories from the past week in KHN's Prescription Drug Watch roundup.
Drug Prices Rose Three Times Faster Than Inflation, Despite Discounts
Amid intensifying anger over the rising cost of medicines, a key piece of data has been missing from the debate — the actual prices after accounting for rebates and discounts offered by drug makers to payers. Now, a new analysis has come up with some numbers and the results are illuminating: Over a recent 11-year period, net prices for hundreds of drugs rose 60%, which was 3.5 times the inflation rate. (Silverman, 3/3)
Drug Prices In US Continue To Soar; Are Profits Too High?
Three studies and two editorials in Journal of the American Medical Association tackle the issue of the relentless rise in prices of new drugs and ask: Is the pharma industry making too much profit? (Nelson, 3/3)
The Washington Post:
Why Facebook Is Filled With Pharmaceutical Ads
Jordan Lemasters keeps seeing ads in his Facebook app for an attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder drug called Vyvanse. When the Chicago-based audio branding consultant recently clicked on the ad’s drop-down menu and selected “Why Am I Seeing This Ad,” a pop-up said it was because of his age range, because he lives in the United States and because he may have visited Vyvanse.com. But Lemasters felt spooked. The 29-year-old had used another ADHD drug, Adderall, but never publicized it. The ads “just felt invasive,” says Lemasters, who says he quit Adderall in 2017 because it made him feel like a zombie. “What bothers me is how powerful those drugs are and how it’s pushed, rather than a doctor actually assessing a patient and suggesting a proper solution." (Tiku, 3/4)
The Wall Street Journal:
Insulin Giant Aims To Unlock Elusive Obesity-Drug Market
The world’s biggest insulin maker is betting it can unlock a multibillion-dollar market that has largely eluded the drug industry: obesity. Denmark’s Novo Nordisk makes one of the world’s few approved drugs aimed specifically at battling obesity, but weight-loss treatments are typically a tough sell. Many doctors are convinced that lifestyle changes, not drugs, are a better answer. The sector is also relatively new: Obesity was first recognized as a disease by the American Medical Association in 2013. Many insurers still don’t cover obesity drugs, and some previous treatments didn’t win approval or were withdrawn from the market after problems arose. (Roland, 3/3)
One Woman's Complicated Journey To A Canada — All For Cheaper Insulin
Just after Emma Kleck turned 26, she started looking up flights to Canada. Kleck, who has type 1 diabetes, knew she’d be paying a hefty sum each year for the test strips, body sensors, and insulin vials she needs to manage her disease once she switched from her parents’ insurance to the high-deductible plan her job offers. She was determined to see if she could find a cheaper option. (Florko and Jaques, 3/4)
Two In Five U.S. Diabetics Struggle With Medical Bills
Many working-age U.S. adults with diabetes struggle to pay their medical bills, according to a study that suggests health insurance offers inadequate protection from financial hardship. Among adults under age 65 with diabetes, 60% of those without insurance struggled to pay for care, as did 40% of people with coverage. (Rapaport, 3/3)
The CT Mirror:
Lawmakers Rally Support For Wide-Ranging Drug Bill
Bolstered by national efforts and the financial concerns of their constituents, legislators are pushing a measure that includes several provisions aimed at capping or lowering the price of prescription medication. The sweeping drug bill features a plan to import medicine from Canada, a proposal to cap the monthly cost of prescription pharmaceuticals at $250 for people with fully insured health plans, a ban on “pay to delay” – a practice that postpones the introduction of cheaper, generic drugs into the market, and a prohibition on mid-year changes to drug formularies. (Carlesso, 3/4)
U.S. Sues Mallinckrodt, Accuses Drugmaker Of Defrauding Medicaid
The United States sued a unit of the drugmaker Mallinckrodt Plc on Tuesday, accusing it of defrauding Medicaid out of hundreds of millions of dollars as a result of "meteoric" price increases for its biggest-selling drug, Acthar Gel. Joining a civil whistleblower lawsuit filed in Boston federal court, the government said Mallinckrodt ARD LLC violated the federal False Claims Act by withholding Medicaid rebates related to Acthar, which now costs nearly $40,000 per vial. (Stempel, 3/3)
Mallinckrodt Sued Over 'Hundreds Of Millions Of Dollars' In Medicaid Rebates
A simmering feud between the federal government and Mallinckrodt (MNK) took a new turn as the Department of Justice filed a lawsuit accusing the company of deliberately underpaying hundreds of millions of dollars in Medicaid rebates, which were tied to the price of its most important medication, the Acthar Gel treatment. Under federal law, drug makers are required to pay quarterly rebates to state Medicaid programs in exchange for coverage of their medicines. These rebates include a provision that is designed to insulate the programs from price hikes that outpace inflation, and companies must pay rebates based on 1990 pricing or whenever a medicine was first marketed. (Silverman, 3/3)
Gilead Buys Forty Seven For $4.9 Billion To Bolster Cancer Drug Pipeline
Gilead Sciences Inc said on Monday it would buy Forty Seven Inc for $4.9 billion in cash, adding an experimental treatment that targets blood cancer to its portfolio of oncology drugs. Shares of Forty Seven jumped 62%, trading slightly below the offer price of $95.50 per share. Gilead shares were up 2.3% at $70.95 in early morning trading. (Mishra and Roy, 3/2)
The Wall Street Journal:
Gilead Sciences To Buy Forty Seven For $4.9 Billion
The deal is the first major outright acquisition under Gilead Chief Executive Daniel O’Day, who took over the company a little over a year ago with a mandate to jump-start sales growth and turn around the company’s sagging stock price. The transaction will deepen Gilead’s pipeline of cancer drugs. Gilead, based in Foster City, Calif., is grappling with a sharp decline in revenue from its hepatitis C drug franchise and the threat of generic competition to its HIV drugs. (Walker, 3/2)
These 4 Startups Got Venture Funding A Year Ago. Where Are They Now?
Every quarter, the CEO of a public biotech company can expect to spend an hour or two on the phone, describing her company’s progress to shareholders and reporters and answering questions from analysts. But CEOs of early-stage, privately held biotech companies are allowed to play their cards much closer to the vest. There are no earnings calls or SEC filings; these CEOs can choose when to update the world with a press release or an interview. (Sheridan, 3/2)
This Biotech Went Public During The Stock Market’s Worst Week Since 2008
Concerns about the coronavirus outbreak made last week one of the markets’ worst since the 2008 financial crisis. But Philadelphia-based gene therapy company Passage Bio (PASG) still launched its initial public offering in the middle of that mess — and the company did just fine. (Sheridan, 3/4)
TG Therapeutics Cops To Another Blood Cancer Drug Trial Delay, As Excuses Wear Thin
TG Therapeutics (TGTX) on Tuesday delayed yet again the readout from its most important blood cancer clinical trial. And like the previous delay of study results disclosed in September 2018, the biotech’s CEO is papering over the very real risk of failure. (Feuerstein, 3/3)
Health-Care Banker Chris Hite Leaves Citi For Royalty Pharma
Chris Hite, a top Citigroup Inc. health-care dealmaker, is leaving the firm. Hite, head of the New York-based bank’s global health-care group for 12 years, will join Royalty Pharma, according to people familiar with the matter, who asked to not be identified because the matter is private. Royalty Pharma is a private company that invests in revenue streams from drugs. (Ahmed and Hammond, 2/27)
Carroll County Times:
Insurers Won’t Pay For A Hampstead Child To Get Treatment For A Rare Syndrome. A Maryland Bill Could Force Them To.
In 2017, 4-year-old Jackson Mattoon of Hampstead could not have been more excited to start preschool, according to his mother Molly. “He was one of those kids that just wanted to be around kids so bad,” she said. “The first day of preschool, we dropped him off and he ran in and didn’t even look back.” And then one day, Molly got a call from Jackson’s teacher. He was inconsolable. (Kelvey, 3/4)