News & Views: 9/29 - 10/5

October 6, 2020

Drug company CEOs attended a two-day hearing with the House Oversight and Reform Committee on the 18-month investigation into high drug prices.

Drug company executives from Celgene, Bristol Myers Squibb, Teva Pharmaceuticals, Amgen Inc, Mallinckrodt Pharmaceuticals, and Novartis were questioned on why their medications are among the highest priced on the market. The CEOs often sited the need for new research and development to enhance their drugs and the importance of funding innovation in the field. House Democrats focused on how the prices have been raised even when no improvement to the drug has been made, the significant bonuses drug company executives make after increasing prices, and corrupt practices such as pay for delay. House Republicans focused primarily on patent reform to encourage innovation, notably increasing the patent life to extend brand drug exclusivity.

  • To read the staff reports and documents for each drug company represented at the hearing, click here.
  • To watch the first day of the hearings, click here.
  • To watch the second day of the hearings, click here.

Politico hosted a virtual event, sponsored by the Coalition for Affordable Prescription Drugs, to discuss recently proposed policies.

The panel of drug policy experts included: Kristen Bernie from PhRMA, Juliette Cubanski from Kaiser Family Foundation, and Stacie B. Dusetzina, PhD from Vanderbilt University School of Medicine. The panel debated whether or not recent policies would be effective in reducing costs for consumers and government spending on prescription drugs. Dusetzina repeatedly stated that none of the existing policies on the table would significantly reduce costs for consumers. However, Bernie claimed the rebate rule would directly reduce out-of-pocket costs for patients by moving rebate discounts from the PBM to the pharmacy counter. The panel agreed that policies such as the most favored nation order and drug discount cards will not lower drug prices for patients or reduce government spending. To watch the event, click here.

In a letter to Secretary Azar, Representatives Pascrell and Doggett urge HHS to clarify how the proposed $200 drug discount cards will reduce drug prices for patients.

While many of the questions posed to the Secretary relate to clarifying how this is not a bribery scheme and the legal justification behind it, the letter also seeks to clarify how these cards can be used. Currently, there is little information on what they can be used on (ie– generics, brand, biologics) or how Medicare beneficiaries will be able to use their cards to reduce their out of pocket costs. To review the complete letter, click here.

On Friday (10/2), the White House announced President Trump tested positive for COVID-19 and was receiving treatment.

Initially, it was reported that the President was only experiencing mild symptoms but was admitted to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center out of precaution. He then received a treatment course of remdesivir, before also receiving a steroid treatment reserved to severe cases. To review the President’s treatment, click here.

Researchers from the Institute for Safe Medication Practices, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, and Johns Hopkins Hospital examined the clinical trials and FDA review process of biosimilars and published their findings in JAMA.

The study found that trials of biosimilars are often longer and more expensive than that of the new molecular entities themselves. The researchers suggest that further studies could determine if the comparative efficacy tests need to be as large and costly as they currently are or if animal studies are necessary at all in determining the effectiveness of the biosimilar. To read the full study, click here.

IQVIA released a report on the availability and usage of biosimilars, as their development has slowly accelerated over the past two years.

The report examines the current biologics market in the US and calculates that biosimilars are projected to save more than $100 billion over the next five years, though they note significant assumptions in their calculation. IQVIA also found that large drug manufacturers, with a biologic profile, are dominating the marketing of biosimilars, while smaller manufacturers are opting to license their products to larger companies. To review the complete report, click here.

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