News & Views: 1/18 - 1/24

January 25, 2022

President Biden announced that he is willing to divide up the Build Back Better Act to gain more support.

The $1.75 trillion bill has been stalled in the Senate since before the New Year due to Senator Manchin’s (D-WV) opposition. However, Biden believes the package can be broken up into “chunks” to gain full Democratic support and be signed into law. After this announcement Speaker Pelosi, voiced some concern about breaking up the package and is looking to create a skinny version of BBBA instead. To read more about President Biden and Speaker Pelosi’s position on the bill, click here and here, respectively.

The HHS Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation released a report on prescription drug affordability among Medicare beneficiaries.

The report was an analysis of the 2019 National Health Interview Survey. The analysis concluded that 5.3 million individuals reported having affordability problems with their prescription medications, 3.5 million of which were adults 65 and older. Women, people with lower incomes, and beneficiaries with chronic conditions were identified as having the highest rates of affordability problems. To read the full report, click here.

CBO released a report on prescription drug spending, usage, and pricing trends from 1980 to 2018.

The report attributes the increased use of prescription drugs to the increase in generic drug accessibility. Also attributed to the increase in generic use is the reduction in the net price of prescriptions. The net prices in Medicare Part D decreased from $57 in 2009 to $50 in 2018 and fell from $63 to $48 in the Medicaid program. However, the average net price of brand-name drugs saw a significant increase during that same time period, due in large part to increased launch prices; brand drugs in Part D increased from $149 to $353 and $147 to $218 in Medicaid. To read the full report, click here.  

Senator Wyden (D-OR) announced that the Senate Finance Committee will continue their investigation into the pharmaceutical industry's tax practices.

Included in the announcement that the Senate Finance Committee will continue their investigation was a letter sent to Bristol Myers Squibb requesting information. The Committee has requested information regarding their use of offshore subsidiaries to circumvent IRS anti abuse rules. Wyden had previously sent a similar letter requesting information to AbbVie. To read the full press release, click here.

Bristol Myers Squibb announced they plan to restrict access to 340B drug pricing program at community pharmacies.

The announcement makes Bristol Myers the 12th large manufacturer to restrict their 340B program. The restrictions go into effect March 1 and will apply to all Bristol Myers drugs other than the Celgene immunomodulatory imide drugs which will have modified access under 340B. To read their press release and 340B Health’s statement on their announcement, click here and here, respectively.

CIDSA Experts in the News

Sean Dickson spoke with reporters at Endpoints News on CBO’s updated model that shows pricing reform will reduce innovation. Dickson disagrees with the CBO model and opines that the few drugs that may not make it market would be “me too” drugs and not actual innovative cures. In response to the claim that negotiation and inflation rebates will reduce innovation by 10%, he argues that the “companies are only going to take the ones that were marginally eligible to come to market to start with in terms of profitability, and those are not likely to be drugs that have a huge health benefit or help a lot of people.” To read the full article, click here.

Ameet Sarpatwari and his colleagues at PORTAL analyzed the impact that patent thickets have on biosimilar accessibility in a new Nature study. The researchers examined all litigated patents surrounding biologic molecules from the time that the Biologics Price Competition and Innovation Act was passed (2010) to August 2020. They found that of the patents that were litigated, only 6% covered the active ingredient, the remaining patents covered uses or peripheral features. To read the full study and corresponding STAT article, click here and here, respectively.

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