Syndicated from Kaiser Health News
News outlets report on stories related to pharmaceutical pricing.
How Pharma, Under Attack From All Sides, Keeps Winning In Washington
In the past month alone, drug makers and the army of lobbyists they employ pressured a Republican senator not to push forward a bill that would have limited some of their intellectual property rights, according to lobbyists and industry representatives. They managed to water down another before it was added to a legislative package aimed at lowering health care costs. Lobbyists also convinced yet another GOP lawmaker — once bombastically opposed to the industry’s patent tactics — to publicly commit to softening his own legislation on the topic, as STAT reported last month. (Florko and Facher, 7/15)
Tracking Washington's Moves On Drug Pricing
From bombastic White House speeches (and tweets) to a flurry of legislation introduced by lawmakers from both parties, it has been a whirlwind three years for policy impacting the pharmaceutical industry. To keep track of all the fast moving developments, STAT has detailed the major proposals pending before the Trump administration and in Congress that aim to lower prescription drug prices — along with those that have already been abandoned, blocked, or softened. (Florko and Facher)
Rick Scott: PhRMA Hasn't Provided 'A Single Answer' On Lower Drug Prices
Sen. Rick Scott (R-Fla.) is calling out the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA), accusing the nation's top lobby for drugmakers on Monday of failing to provide "a single answer or solution to our questions" on lowering prescription drug prices. Scott's comments are the latest in a fight over how best to lower drug prices for consumers. (Gangitano, 7/15)
Advocates Frustrated Over Pace Of Drug Price Reform
Washington has seen a flurry of activity and bipartisan interest in passing drug pricing legislation this year, but with the August recess approaching and the 2020 elections ahead, advocates for reform worry time is running short. Congress has two weeks until the August recess, and lawmakers must handle a number of other pressing issues. And despite early momentum, House Democratic leaders are divided with progressives over their drug pricing bill, while in the upper chamber Republicans are balking at some measures backed by Senate Finance Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa). (Gangitano, 7/15)
Democratic Chair: Medicare Negotiating Drug Prices Not Moving Before August
A measure lawmakers have been working on for months to allow Medicare to negotiate drug prices will not move forward before Congress leaves for the August recess, said a key Democrat involved in the legislation. “I really wanted to see that done pre-August, and I don't think that's going to be the case,” said Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-Calif.), the chairwoman of the House Energy and Commerce Health Subcommittee. (Sullivan, 7/16)
Hill Efforts Now Trump's Best Hope For Drug Pricing Action
An upcoming Senate bill is the Trump administration’s best hope for a significant achievement before next year’s election to lower prescription drug prices, but a lot still needs to go right for anything to become law. Despite the overwhelming desire for action, there are still policy gulfs between Republicans and Democrats in the Senate, and another gap between the Senate and the House. And the politics of the moment might derail potential policy agreements. Some Democrats might balk at settling for a drug pricing compromise that President Donald Trump endorsed. (Siddons and Clason, 7/16)
Kamala Harris Becomes The Latest Democrat To Zero In On Drug Prices
Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) on Tuesday became the second leading Democratic primary candidate in as many days to unveil a comprehensive plan to lower drug prices. Harris’s plan relies on government price-setting, allowing the federal government to cap price levels for drugs that are cheaper in other developed nations or whose prices increase by a rate exceeding inflation. (Facher, 7/16)
Do Doctors Prescribe More Painkillers Because Of Pharma Money?
Amid ongoing concern that painkillers other than opioids are being misused, a new analysis suggests industry payments to physicians may cause increased prescribing of a class of drugs known as gabapentinoids, which are used to relieve pain and includes the popular Lyrica pill sold by Pfizer (PFE). After combing through a federal database of payments to doctors and running statistical models, the researchers found that physicians receiving food, gifts, and speaking and consulting fees, among other things, were nearly twice as likely to prescribe these medicines instead of lower-cost generic versions. (Silverman, 7/9)
GSK Took A Leap Of Faith On PARP Inhibitors In Cancer. It May Pay Off
When GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) purchased Tesaro for $5 billion last December, one of the company’s big arguments in favor of the deal was that Tesaro’s lead drug, Zejula, would be useful in many more cancers than investors expected. Zejula, like Lynparza from AstraZeneca and Merck, inhibits an enzyme called PARP, which is involved in repairing DNA. So far, it has proved useful mainly in cancers that are caused by mutations in the BRCA gene, the same one that causes breast and ovarian cancer. But Glaxo argued that there are cancers where Zejula would work, which also means a larger group of patients. (Herper, 7/16)
At Gilead, CEO O’Day Starts Putting Stamp On Firm With A $5 Billion Deal
Daniel O’Day was made CEO of Gilead Sciences four-and-a-half months ago, charged with reigniting investor excitement in a company that pioneered HIV medicines. On Sunday, he announced his first big deal: Gilead will spend $5 billion to deepen its relationship with Galapagos NV, a Belgian drug developer. “I’m really happy that this is the first deal that’s [being] announced — it certainly won’t be the only deal — because I think it’s creative,” O’Day said in an interview. “I think it’s innovative. I think it’s focused on science and innovation. And you know, with my background, this is what I’m passionate about. How can we find the most innovative medicines and get them to patients fast?” (Herper, 7/15)
The Wall Street Journal:
Gilead To Boost Stake In Belgian Biotech Galapagos As Part Of $5.1 Billion Deal
Gilead Sciences Inc. will pay $5.1 billion to boost its stake in Galapagos NV and gain rights outside Europe to the Belgian biotechnology company’s treatments in development, in a broad research collaboration aimed at increasing growth at the drugmakers. Under the terms of the deal, announced Sunday, Gilead will make a $3.95 billion payment to Galapagos. It also will invest $1.1 billion, or $158.49 a share, to increase its stake in the drugmaker to 22% from 12.3%. That represents a 20% premium to the 30-day weighted average share price of Galapagos, which trades in Amsterdam and on Nasdaq and has a market value of around $7.9 billion. (Rockoff and Lombardo, 7/14)
Cleveland Plain Dealer:
GoodRx Lowers Prescription Costs For Some, But Questions Remain On Impact For Others
There is no doubt that middlemen like GoodRx can help patients save money on prescriptions. That’s especially true for the uninsured or underinsured. There are questions, however, about whether these kinds of companies might overincentivize patients to buy certain drugs, and whether their reliance on referral fees — which some critics call kickbacks — inflate costs for other consumers. (Washington, 7/14)
Christi Shaw Named CEO Of Kite Pharma, Gilead’s Anti-Cancer Unit
Christi Shaw, until Thursday morning the executive in charge of Eli Lilly’s drug division, will become the CEO of Kite Pharma, the unit of biotechnology giant Gilead that is focused on treatments that genetically engineer patients’ white blood cells to attack cancer. Shaw said she was inspired to take the job because that type of treatment, known as CAR-T, is what she wants to focus on. (Herper, 7/11)
This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.
Some stories produced by Kaiser Health News, which publishes California Healthline, an editorially independent service of the California Health Care Foundation. Kaiser Health News, a nonprofit health newsroom whose stories appear in news outlets nationwide, is an editorially independent part of the Kaiser Family Foundation.