News & Views: 1/12 - 1/18

January 19, 2021

Incoming Senate Finance Committee Chair Ron Wyden mentioned he will be taking “bold action on prescription drug prices” by building on his previous work.

Wyden has previously cosponsored bipartisan efforts to lower drug prices, such as his attempt to cap out-of-pocket costs for Medicare enrollees with the outgoing committee chair Senator Grassley. While it may be possible to revisit such bills now that democrats have the majority, Wyden believes that democrats should be more aggressive moving forward, suggesting the possibility of using a budget reconciliation measure to pass Medicare negotiation. To read the entire article, click here.

The Senate Finance Committee released a two-year review into rising insulin prices.

The investigation looked into the three largest insulin manufacturers (Sanofi, Novo Nordisk, and Eli Lilly) and the three largest PBMs (CVS Caremark, Express Scripts, and OptumRx) to find why a drug that has been on the market for a century continues to skyrocket in price. The bipartisan investigation found manufacturers aggressively increase their insulin prices, even when there is no evidence of increased efficacy. Novo Nordisk and Sanofi in particular were found to monitoring each other’s price increases so that they were able to increase their own hours to days from the other, in a tactic called “shadow pricing.”  Internal documents also showed that manufacturers decided against lowering prices out of fear that PBMs may react by removing their product from the formulary.  To read the full report, click here.

  • To review the Committee’s press release, click here.

The Pharmaceutical Care Management Association (PCMA) filed a lawsuit against the Trump Administration’s rebate rule.

The lawsuit calls for the rule to not be implemented and invalidated. The filing argues the merits of the rule, which had very little support outside of the administration and the rulemaking process overall. The primary argument against the legality of the rule is that the administration withdrew the rule after receiving tens of thousands of negative comment letters, only to reintroduce the rule and finalize it, thereby circumventing the typical rulemaking process. Multiple other advocacy groups have released statements in support of PCMA’s lawsuit, including the Better Medicare Alliance and the Campaign for Sustainable Rx Prices. To review the full court filing, click here.

  • To read PCMA’s press release, click here.  

Large drug manufacturers sued HHS over the advisory opinion defending 340B discounts to contract pharmacies.

AztraZeneca, Eli Lilly, and Sanofi have all filed separate lawsuits against HHS after the HHS general counsel published an advisory opinion defending contract pharmacies’ right for 340B discounts. All three manufacturers believe they should be able to restrict the discounts they give to contract pharmacies, and therefore the advisory opinion should be retracted. To read the full article, click here.

Maryland state Senate voted to override Governor Hogan’s veto of funding for the state board that focuses on making high-cost prescription drugs affordable.

The Maryland Prescription Drug Affordability Board was created to study ways in which the state can help lower drug-related costs for residents. They plan to assess approximately 1,400 manufacturers, wholesalers, PBMs, and insurers to find the cause of high prices in Maryland. Governor Hogan vetoed funding the board, sighting the measure to be misguided in a time where they should be focusing on a COVID-19 vaccination response.  To read the full article, click here.

ICER released an analysis of drugs that had the most significant price increases in 2019.

The report identifies ten specific drugs that had substantial price increases in addition to already high spending in 2019, out of the ten drugs, seven did not have any clinical support for the change in price. If those seven drugs did not increase in net costs in 2019,they could have prevented the US health care system an unnecessary $1.2 billion in spending. To read the full report, click here.

  • To read ICER’s press release, click here.

Billionaire Mark Cuban has turned to the generic drug industry for his next investment.

Cuban has launched his own generic drug company with a goal that everyone should be able to afford their medicine. The Mark Cuban Cost Plus Drug Company claims they will provide “radical transparency” throughout the whole manufacturing and marketing process. Cost Plus Drugs has also announced they will not have any hidden costs, middlemen, or rebates available only to insurers. While they only have one drug available as of now, albendazole, they plan to introduce more than 100 other prescription drugs by the end of 2021 and have announced a new factory in Dallas, Texas. To read the entire article, click here.

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