Tuesday, July 26, 2016

News Release: We Can’t Wait:Personal importation of prescription medicines offers lower costs, health benefits for Americans

Personal Importation of Brand-Name Drugs Primary Campaign Issue for Senators, Representatives

Election 2016 story about Congress and Personal Importation Prescription Drugs
The cost of illness and denial of the rights of Americans to have access to good health is too immense for further delays especially when it is within the ability of Congress to offer a solution
— Daniel Hines
ST. LOUIS, MISSOURI, USA, July 26, 2016 /EINPresswire.com/ -- The publisher of RxforAmericanHealth says that Election 2016 is an opportunity to demand the next Congress make the enactment of personal importation of brand-name prescription medicines a legislative priority.

Daniel Hines explains that for more than a quarter-century, Americans have been victims of the predatory pricing practices of Pharma.
“It is time for a change! American patients can’t way any longer!,” he says, “especially when there is an answer—personal imporation can provide the touchstone for a bi-partisan approach to comprehensive legislation to allow Americans the health benefits of access to vital personally imported maintenance medicines that would otherwise be unaffordable.
“Such access could very well be a key to deterring the illness and physical deterioration that too often lead to more drastic devastating illness that will require specialty medicines,” Hines says.
“That is why AmericanRxBillofRights has submitted its Articles defining the rights of Americans to enjoy the health and personal well-being benefits of access to safe, affordable prescription brand-name medicines from licensed, registered pharmacies from Tier One Countries whose standards of efficacy and safety meet or exceed those of the U.S. before Representatives, Senators and even the Platform Committees of the Republican and Democratic parties, “ he continues.
Hines says the challenge lies with our political leadership. 
“The Presidential candidates have offered their support of many of the provisions laid out in the AmericanRxBillofRights. It is now the voters who must call out their Congressional candidates to demand answers about the harmful impacts of the predatory pricing practices of Pharma.”
He outlines the results of the failure of Congress to act:
Result #1—A denial for millions of Americans to be able to exercise their right to the health benefit made possible from access to a regimen of vital life-line brand-name medicines, simply because they are unaffordable;
Result # 2—The ‘hoped-for’ answer to the scourge of unaffordable medicines—generic medicines—have seen price spikes that have made many of them equally unavailable to American patients;
Result # 3—Literally millions of Americans suffer from diseases—many of them life-threatening—raising the question of a possible link to the cause-effect impact of unaffordable but vital maintenance medicines that could have benefitted patients and deterred the harmful effects of their disease;
Result # 4—Pharma raises prices, on specialty medicines to thousands of dollars for treatments, even though many of the costly medicines are older, lower-cost medicines, and manufacturers are simply taking advantage of the illness of Americans; 
Result # 5—Congress becomes indignant, holds hearings, witness testify, advocacy groups coalesce to ‘address’ price challenges, but…prices remain high, Congress continues with more hearings…and Americans continue to pay the highest prices in the world…WHY?;
Result #6--Because Pharma and its allies in the House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate who are the beneficiaries of Pharma’s extensive contributions have controlled the discussion on how to lower prescription and health care costs while Pharma continues to rake in obscene profits, and American patients continue to be denied their medicines. 
He then suggests that voters demand answers to a series of questions from Representatives, Senators and candidates:
1. In light of the wide-spread bi-partisan support of personal importation for at least 16 years, sponsorship and support of legislation from the leadership of both political parties including the President, and the three major candidates of the Democratic and Republican Party this year, why has there been no adoption of personal importation;
2. If the answer is the ‘certification’ of the safety of the medicines by the Secretary of Health and Human Services, could you please provide the names and responsibilities of other Cabinet members who are legislatively made personally responsible for certifying the health impact of regulations, decisions, policies of their particular departments? 
3. There are many groups that are being formed to ‘study’ the harmful impacts of recent price increases such as the spike in generic drug costs, and, of specialty medicines. Many of you have exhibited leadership in hearings about these issues. Unfortunately, the new groups being formed will require time—perhaps more than a year—to develop a consensus on the scope of the problems. Strategies to address the challenge of high prices will take even longer, ironically, since enactment of legislation to allow personal importation can offer immediate relief.
4. And, this leads to a final set of questions:
a. If you are not a sponsor or co-sponsor of a bill to allow personal importation, why not? If you are a supporter of personal importation, why do you believe your efforts have not gained traction?
b. Have you received contributions from the Pharmaceutical industry?
c. Does the problem lie within Congress itself? For years, the Democrats controlled the House and Senate. Now, the Republicans have had control of the House and Senate for six years, and have failed to even bring the issue to a vote. Does this indicate that politics take precedence over the health of your constituents?
d. Irrespective of the cause, what is your strategy to advance the case for personal importation and lowering prescription drug costs? 
e. Are there stumbling blocks that public action by advocacy groups and the millions of Americans for whom personal importation is a vital lifeline, can help remove?
“Relief will come only when the American voter finally speaks up and takes the initiative to clearly demand that Congress act, “ Hines says. “Americans pay the highest costs for prescription medicines in the world. We truly Can’t Wait anymore. The cost in terms of illness, costs, and denial of the rights of Americans to have access to good health is too immense for further delays especially when it is within the ability of Congress to offer a solution.”

We Can’t Wait: Making the case for Personal importation of prescription medicines as the primary immediate health care tool to lower costs and provide benefits to the health and well-being of Americans

For more than a quarter-century, Americans have been victims of the predatory pricing practices of Pharma.

It is time for a change! American patients can’t wait any longer!  

There is an answer, a strategy that can provide the touchstone for a bi-partisan approach to comprehensive legislation to allow Americans the health benefits of access to vital maintenance medicines, access that could very well be a key to deterring the illness and physical deterioration that too often lead to more drastic devastating illness that will require specialty medicines.

That answer is personal importation of brand-name prescription medicines from licensed, registered Pharmacies in Tier One countries whose standards of safety and efficacy meet or exceed those of the U.S.

That is why AmericanRxBillofRights submitted its Articles defining the rights of Americans to enjoy the health and personal well-being benefits of access to personally imported medicines to Representatives, Senators and even the Platform Committees of the Republican and Democratic parties.

We did this because the challenge lies with our political leadership.  The Presidential candidates have offered their support of many of the provisions laid out in the AmericanRxBillofRights, so it is now the voters who must call out their Congressional candidates to demand answers about the harmful impacts of the predatory pricing practices of Pharma.

The first step is to define the results of the failure of Congress to act, and why we can’t wait any longer. Consider the results of Congress’ failure:
  • Result #1—A denial for millions of Americans to be able to exercise their right to the health benefit made possible from access to a regimen of vital life-line brand-name medicines, simply because they are unaffordable;
  • Result # 2—The ‘hoped-for’ answer to the scourge of unaffordable medicines—generic medicines—have seen price spikes that have made many of them equally unavailable to American patients;
  • Result # 3—Literally millions of Americans suffer from diseases—many of them life-threatening—raising the question of a possible link to the cause-effect impact of the denial of vital personally imported maintenance medicines that could have benefited patients and deterred the harmful effects of their disease;
  • Result # 4—Pharma raises prices on specialty medicines to thousands of dollars for treatments, even though many of the costly medicines are older, lower-cost medicines, and manufacturers are simply taking advantage of the illness of Americans;
  • Result # 5—Congress becomes indignant, holds hearings, witness testify, advocacy groups coalesce to ‘address’ price challenges, but…prices remain high, Congress continues with more hearings…and Americans continue to pay the highest prices in the world…WHY?;
  • Result #6--Because Pharma and its allies in the House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate who are the beneficiaries of Pharma’s extensive contributions have controlled the discussion on how to lower prescription and health care costs Pharma continues to rake in obscene profits, and American patients continue to be denied their medicines.
  • Here is a series of questions to ask the candidates in your Congressional districts and U.S. Senate races:
  • 1.     In light of the wide-spread bi-partisan support of personal importation for at least 16 years, sponsorship and support of legislation from the leadership of both political parties including the President, and the three major candidates of the Democratic and Republican Party this year, why has there been no adoption of personal importation;
  • 2.    If the answer is the ‘certification’ of the safety of the medicines by the Secretary of Health and Human Services, could you please provide the names and responsibilities of other Cabinet members who are legislatively made personally responsible for certifying the health impact of regulations, decisions, policies of their particular departments?
  • 3.    There are many groups that are being formed to ‘study’ the harmful impacts of recent price increases such as the spike in generic drug costs, and, of specialty medicines.  Unfortunately, the new groups being formed will require time—perhaps more than a year—to develop a consensus on the scope of the problems. Strategies to address the challenge of high prices will take even longer, ironically, since enactment of legislation to allow personal importation can offer immediate relief.
  • 4.    And, this leads to a final set of questions:
  • a.    If you are not a sponsor or co-sponsor of a bill to allow personal importation, why not?  If you are a supporter of personal importation, why do you believe your efforts have not gained traction?
  • b.    Does the problem lie within Congress itself?  For years, the Democrats controlled the House and Senate. Now, the Republicans have had control of the House and Senate for six years, and have failed to even bring the issue to a vote.  Does this indicate that politics take precedence over the health of your constituents?
  • c.     Irrespective of the cause, what is your strategy to advance the case for personal importation and lowering prescription drug costs?
  • d.    Are there stumbling blocks that public action by advocacy groups and the millions of Americans for whom personal importation is a vital lifeline, can help remove?
Relief will come only when the American voter finally speaks up and takes the initiative to clearly demand that Congress act.  Americans pay the highest costs for prescription medicines in the world.  We truly Can’t Wait anymore.  The cost in terms of illness, costs, and denial of the rights of Americans to have access to good health is too immense for further delays especially when it is within the ability of Congress to offer a solution.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Republican Platform Committee fails in healthcare plank with falsehood, ignoring the major issue of the past 16 months-- high prescription drug costs

By Daniel Hines
Publisher, RxforAmericanHealth

There is an old story about why an Ostrich sticks its head in the sand.  It is said that since it can’t see anyone, he thinks no one can see him. 

Now, the Republican Party Platform Committee has exhibited Ostrich-like behavior in its Healthcare plank, not even mentioning the cost of prescription medicines as an issue that demands immediate attention from elected officials except to claim that Obamacare is the cause, claiming that Obamacare “… through mandated price cuts for drugs under Medicare and Medicaid, forced pharmaceutical companies to raise prices for everyone else. Its “silver plans,” the most common option on the government insurance exchanges, limit people’s access to their own doctor through narrow networks and restrict drug coverage, forcing many patients to pay for extremely costly medicines for their chronic diseases…

This is an insult to the millions of Americans who can’t afford their medicines because of the predatory pricing practices of Pharma that have led to Americans paying the highest prices for their medicines in the world, making prescription drugs a major driver of total health care costs.

The truth is that Pharma charges what the traffic will bear. While the GOP Platform views Pharma as the ‘victim’ being forced to raise prescription drug prices by Obamacare, which ironically was passed because of the many behind-the-door deals made with Pharma, two hard truths remain: (1)  A prescription medicine that is unaffordable is, in and of itself, unavailable because of that unaffordability; (2)  And, As Stephen Schondelmeyer, Ph.D., drug pricing expert and head of the University of Minnesota Department of Pharmaceutical Care and Health Systems says, “A drug that’s not affordable is neither safe nor effective.”

The GOP cannot claim not to be aware of the public outcry abut high prescription drug prices. 

Most significantly, Candidate Donald Trump has expressed his support for personal importation of prescription medicines and price negotiation to lower prescription drug costs, only to be ignored by the Platform Committee.

Surely the Committee knows of the many bi-partisan Congressional investigations into the pricing abuses of Pharma, headlines among virtually all media, cost pressures that threaten the very stability of the Health Care system as prescription drugs are readily identifiable as a primary driver of costs,   and the demands by advocates that Congress take action to ensure that Americans have access to safe, affordable medicines that will enhance the health and well-being of Americans who cannot afford even their maintenance medicines, let alone the outrageous high costs of specialty medicines whose prices have soared simply because Pharma can charge what it wishes.

The failure to exhibit the leadership necessary to even acknowledge the problem cannot be construed as anything more than pandering to Pharma.  It is more disconcerting when the failure to present even a basic consideration of and reaction to the many bi-partisan proposals that have been brought forth over the years to lower prescription drug costs is put up against the Democrat Party Platform, which presents specific proposals to lower prescription drug prices. 

These include an end to pay-for-delay tactics of Pharma to keep lower-priced generics off the market; personal importation of safe, affordable prescription medicines from licensed, registered pharmacies in Canada and other ‘comparable’ (Tier One Countries) where the standards of Safety and Efficacy meet or exceed those of the U.S.; greater ‘stakeholder’ rights for the general public; and price negotiation for Medicare drugs.

For the record, we submitted a proposal to both the Democrat Platform Committee and to the GOP Platform Committee.  Both were based on the principles outlined in The American Rx Bill of Rights, but tailored to reflect the particular political philosophies of each Party,  in a manner showing how certain tenents of  what might seem to be differences actually could provide a basis from which to reach consensus.

From a strictly political viewpoint, it is imperative that Candidate Trump intervene to ensure that the Healthcare portion of the GOP platform reflect his stance, which has included a role for some sort of personal importation of brand-name medicines. 

But, instead of incorporating Trump’s stance into the document, the Platform Committee has instead included boilerplate  that sounds as though it has been written by Pharma spokespersons.

Candidate Trump had already shown his ability to shape the platform on other issues, such as trade,  moving the Committee closer to his stance on agreements such as NAFTA, TPP and future negotiations.

In light of that issue, the failure of the GOP Platform Committee to even acknowledge a basic understanding of the pricing philosophy of Pharma calls for immediate action by Candidate Trump to acknowledge that the cost of prescription drugs is nothing less than a national emergency.

The challenge now is for him to clearly identify his stance on healthcare and related-issues such as prescription drug costs.  If he acts to ensure the inclusion of his previously announced stance, it will be a welcomed sign of a commitment to making safe, affordable prescription medicines available to millions of Americans.

The alternative—signing-off on the GOP Platform Committee ill-founded reasoning of why prescription drug costs are high is unacceptable and likely could have severe political recriminations in Election 2016 since at one time or another in our lives, virtually every American of some member of their family will require medications.


A failure to act will be viewed as a repudiation of his previously announced stance, and would be an indication that the GOP is unresponsive to the major healthcare story of the past 16 months, e.g. the predatory pricing practices of Pharma.  If it is the latter, then the symbol of the GOP should be changed from the Elephant to the Ostrich.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

WHY THE REPUBLICAN PARTY PLATFORM PLANNING COMMITTEE SHOULD INCLUDE THE TENANTS OF AN AMERICAN RX BILL OF RIGHTS TO LOWER PRESCRIPTION DRUG PRICES



·       Submitted by Daniel Hines, Publisher, Todays Seniors Network, American Rx Bill of Rights, RxFor American Health
53 Oak Hill Drive,
Ellisville, MO 63021

As an advocate working for 16 years on behalf of lowering prescription medicine prices, I am respectfully making this submission to the Republican Party Platform Planning Committee to address,  by incorporating into the Party platform  the Articles covered in an American Rx Bill of Rights,  a move that would lessen the damaging impact of rising prescription drug costs upon the health and well- being of millions of Americans
.
Unaffordable medicines deprive American patients of the health maintenance benefits made possible by access to a regimen of safe, affordable medicines, because unaffordable medicines are, in and of themselves, unavailable. 

The solution: the members of the committee will have a unique opportunity to illustrate its awareness of the sense of urgency that exists for millions of Americans who are unable to afford their prescription medicines. 
 
While higher-priced specialty medicines have captured most of the headlines in the recent outrage about the pricing abuses of Pharma, we also respectfully submit that cost relief can be made possible immediately by legislation allowing personal importation of vital maintenance brand-name medicines. 

As noted, (a) a medicine that is unaffordable is unavailable; (b) vital maintenance medicines are a ‘driver’ of health care costs both immediately and in the future with ensuing harmful effects upon the health of Americans who are denied those maintenance medicines simply because they are unaffordable. 

This can lead to future health complications requiring medications that cost thousands of dollars, claiming justification for their costs because, admittedly, they offer extensions of life-expectancy that would not be otherwise available.  However, if the patients had access to affordable maintenance medicines in the first place, possibly they would, in many instances, likely have avoided later complications.

An American Rx Bill of Rights should be included because it represents many of the prominent values of the Republican Party:

  • It reflects the extension of freedom of choice and competitive practices that are a touchstone for the Party;
  • It is an opportunity for the Party to take steps that will improve and enhance the health and well-being of a vast number of Americans who, because of the continuing recession, are the forgotten segment of America that is suffering economically from the longest-lasting economic ‘recovery’ in our history’;
  • In the instance of personal importation of brand-name medicines, it can embrace its confidence in the ability of Americans, acting with the assurance of safety and efficacy through reciprocal agreements and Memorandums of Understanding with Tier One Countries whose standards of safety and efficacy meet or exceed those of the U.S., to have an affordable and safe source of vital brand-name prescription medicines;
  • The presumptive nominee of the Party, Donald J. Trump, has called for support of policies, including personal importation;
  • It offers the Party a workable strategy to address the shortcoming of the Affordable Care Act under which premiums and related costs have accelerated too such a point that the structure of many parts of Medicare and other programs that were accomplishments of bi-partisan efforts and leadership is threatened;
  • It creates a ‘place at the table’ for ordinary Americans in policy development;
  • It opens an opportunity to address the rules promulgaters by ensuring a Congressional Oversight that will ensure that regulators remember that it is Congress not regulators that make laws, and not the function or responsibility of the unelected and faceless regulators.
The Basic Tenants of the Submission follow:

A basic right to good health; An unaffordable medicine is truly unavailable; Citizens must have rights as stakeholders in debate and discussions of health policy centered on pharmaceutical costs equal to that of Pharma; The rights of Americans to due process in the protection of their rights and ability to make valid medical decisions must be protected; It is in the public interest to recognize the significant contributors to the development of research and development costs of new medicines through their tax dollars in support of grants to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), and, as such, should be protected from unfair or questionable patent protection granted to Pharma that fails to recognize the rights of American citizens; the FDA should enter into reciprocal agreements and Memorandums of Understanding (MOU) in recognition of its many agreements already in place with authorities in other countries to help ensure a safe and easily validated source of medications for Americans.

An examination of the Articles:

Article One (A Basic Right to Good Health)
The impact of millions of Americans being denied the health benefits of access to a regimen of safe, affordable medicines because of cost is a national health issue that has yet-to-be-recognized consequences. 

(That is why the ability of American Citizens to make health care decisions in concert with their physicians such as the purchase of personally imported safe, affordable prescription medicines should not be hampered by any actions by government or private entities as a policy to restrict Americans' access to authentic medicines. )

Article Two (An Unaffordable Medicine is Unavailable)
Because a prescription medicine that is unaffordable is unavailable, it qualifies within even the existing   'rules' of the FDA that such a medicine that is otherwise unavailable in the U.S. is indeed eligible to be personally imported by an American patient.
(Arbitrary denial by the FDA to such access is detrimental to the health of the patient by denying him or her access to vital maintenance medicines. This is a violation of the purpose of the FDA which is ostensibly designed to protect the health and well-being of American citizens.)

Article Three (Citizens as Stakeholders)
It is incumbent upon Congress that it act to ensure that ordinary American citizens whose health and finances are adversely affected by Pharma pricing practices, advocacy groups other than those of Pharma, are given a 'stakeholder' status equal to that of Pharma.
(The relationship between the FDA, elected officials, and Pharma has led to numerous abuses, access by Pharma to legislators and other elected officials based on the contribution of millions of dollars, favored status for Pharma representatives and their front groups as the primary representative at public hearings to determine the health care policy for Federal, State and Local Governments, thereby skewering the decision-making process.)

Article Four (Due Process)
Americans who purchase safe, affordable medicines from licensed, registered pharmacies in Tier One Countries whose standards meet or exceed those of the U.S., are the legitimate owners of their authentic medicines and are entitled to exercise their due process rights to have their personal property free from undue and unjustified seizure oar destruction by any governmental agency unless the seizing authority can demonstrate via established judicial processes and to courts that such seizures are only of bogus, counterfeit or unsafe prescription medicines.

Article Five (Public Interest)
Americans are significant contributors to the development of research and development costs of new medicines through their tax dollars in support of grants to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), and, as such, should be protected from unfair or questionable patent protection granted to Pharma that fails to recognize the rights of American citizens.
(Abuses in pricing, illegal business activities, or undue influence upon policy-making by the FDA or elected officials should result in a reduction of the patent protection afforded Pharma to the detriment of untold numbers of Americans who must be able to pay what Pharma believes the traffic will bear.)

Article Six (Reciprocity)
The FDA should extend reciprocity to other Tier One countries in the interests of the health of American citizens, and Congress should compel the Secretary of Health and Human Services to take action for the authority already passed by Congress to facilitate outreach with selected countries to establish such reciprocity and Memorandums of Understanding on Good Manufacturing Procedures.
(The majority of brand name prescription medicines sold to Americans is manufactured at plants outside the U.S., under FDA supervision, or at plants licensed by Pharma members to produce medicines under a license granted by a particular company, a validation that medicines produced outside the U.S. and sold in this country are indeed capable of being safe. Also, the FDA has entered into agreements with regulatory agencies in many countries to assume the task of overseeing ingredients manufacture of ingredients

Specifics of the Platform Plank

Specifically then, the Platform Plank would call for Congressional and Presidential support and enactment of a comprehensive consensus-building strategy to lower prescription prices,  including but not limited to price negotiations;  Pharma patent protection revisions to reflect American taxpayer support of NIH-funded research and development;  an end-to-pay-to-delay tactics of Pharma to protect their markets while denying Americans access to lower-cost generics;  approval of the rights of Americans to personally import safe, affordable brand-name medicines from licensed registered pharmacies in Tier One Countries whose standards of safety and efficacy meet or exceed those of the U.S.; compelling the Secretary of Health and Human Services to facilitate agreements for implementation and, with reciprocal Memorandums of Understanding, to provide the framework for such personal importation.

We urge your serious consideration of this submission.
Respectfully submitted:

Friday, July 8, 2016

Pharmacy Journal Examines National Trends in Prescription Drug Spending

Prescription drug spending to continue to increase
AJHP Projects 11 to 17 Percent Rise in Hospital & Clinic Drug Expenditures in 2016

Newswise, July 8, 2016— A sharp rise in prescription medication prices — driven by the introduction of new, expensive specialty medications and huge increases in the costs of older drug products with few competitors — drove an 11.7 percent increase in hospital and clinic spending on medications in 2015, according to a new report published in AJHP (American Journal of Health-System Pharmacy). AJHP is the peer-reviewed, scholarly publication of ASHP (American Society of Health-System Pharmacists). 


The article “National trends in prescription drug expenditures and projections for 2016,” commissioned by ASHP and written by Glen T. Schumock, Pharm.D., M.B.A., Ph.D., et al., provides an overview of the factors driving medication costs up, often far past the rate of inflation.

The report projects an 11 to 13 percent increase in total drug expenditures in hospitals and health systems in 2016, which includes a 15 to 17 percent increase in clinic spending and a 10 to 12 percent increase in hospital spending.


The report’s authors relied on information from the IMS Health National Sales Perspectives™ (NSP) database to examine past trends in drug expenditures and expected changes in the drug marketplace that may influence drug costs, including anticipated new drug approvals and patent expirations, to make their predictions. ASHP publishes this annual projection of drug expenditures to help health-system pharmacy leaders plan drug budgets.


Total U.S. prescription drug sales in 2015 were $419.4 billion, and prescription expenditures in clinics and nonfederal hospitals totaled $56.7 billion (a 15.9 percent increase) and $33.6 billion (a 10.7 percent increase), respectively.


“Because factors that influence spending vary by sector, it’s important to drill down to understand what is happening in each sector and drug class,” said Dr. Schumock, Professor and Head of the Department of Pharmacy Systems, Outcomes, and Policy at the College of Pharmacy at The University of Illinois, Chicago.


In nonfederal hospitals, rising prices of existing drugs (specifically injectables) drove the growth in spending. In clinics, increased volume of use led to higher expenditures. Infliximab was the top drug based on total spending in both settings.

“Individual drugs with the greatest increases in expenditures in 2015 were specialty agents and older generics; these agents are likely to continue to influence total spending in 2016,” according to the authors.

AJHP Editor in Chief Daniel J. Cobaugh, Pharm.D., DABAT, FAACT, believes that pharmacists will find the trends and projections outlined in the report to be invaluable in planning ahead to control potential drug cost increases while maintaining the quality of patient care.

“The drug expenditures forecast provides critically important and timely data that pharmacy leaders can use in their planning as they strive to provide high-quality patient care in a complex healthcare environment,” he said.


According to Dr. Schumock, pharmacists need to be diligent about understanding what factors influence drug spending within their own organizations.

 “By understanding the key cost drivers, pharmacy leaders can implement programs to target them,” he noted, adding that such strategies could include working with prescribers to use equally effective but less expensive medications or developing programs such as antibiotic stewardship to reduce unnecessary use of drugs.


Dr. Schumock believes that the continued expansion of the number and use of high-priced specialty medications will push costs even higher in 2016. “Specialty medications will constitute a significant portion of new medications on the market in the future,” he said. “As such, they will drive even higher spending.”


The authors note that in 2015, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved 45 new medications for complex, chronic, or rare diseases such as metastatic breast cancer, plaque psoriasis, HCV infection, cystic fibrosis, and pulmonary arterial hypertension.

The authors also previewed other challenges that are on the horizon, including restricted distribution channels created by manufacturers for certain specialty medications.

An aging patient population, greater patient access to healthcare services due to the Affordable Care Act, and a growing U.S. economy will also influence medication costs in the future, according to Dr. Schumock. One of the bright spots on the horizon for reducing medication costs may be the advent of biosimilars.

“However, drug spending will be reduced only when there are a sufficient number of these products on the market to create competition and drive down prices,” he cautioned.

To glean further insight into future drug spending trends and projections, listen to an ASHP Voices interview with Dr. Schumock and the study’s co-author, Michelle D. Wiest, Pharm.D., BCPS, FASHP, by 
clicking here. In addition, click here for an infographic to help readers interpret the paper from a visual perspective.

EDITOR’S NOTE: The 2015 Prescription Drug Expenditures infographic can be made available for digital and print reproduction.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Free Meals Lead Doctors to Prescribe More Expensive Medicine

June 22, 2016-- A new study suggests that doctors who receive free meals from pharmaceutical companies are more likely to prescribe name brand drugs over cheaper generics.

The practice of pharmaceutical sales representatives treating doctors to free meals may be driving up the out-of-pocket price of drugs in the U.S., a new study suggests.

Writing in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine, researchers from the University of California San Francisco found that the marketing practice makes doctors more likely to prescribe expensive name brand drugs, which are not always covered by insurance, over cheaper generics.

The study found that doctors who were treated to just one meal costing less than $20 “were up to two times as likely to prescribe the promoted brand name drugs as physicians who received no meals.” Doctors who accepted multiple free meals were three times more likely to prescribe name brand medicine.

“Whether a formal dinner or a brief lunch in a doctor’s office, these encounters are an opportunity for drug company representatives to discuss products with physicians and their staff,” said Adams Dudley, director of the Center for Healthcare Value at the Philip R. Lee Institute for Health Policy Studies at UCSF, and the senior scientist on the study.

“The meals may influence physicians’ prescribing decisions.”

Previous studies have shown that people prescribed more affordable generic drugs are more likely to stay on the medication for the prescribed amount of time while they are less likely to do so with more expensive name brand drugs.

“A lot of the financial burden of using brand name drugs instead of generic drugs falls on the seniors enrolled in Medicare, who pay an average monthly co-pay of $40 to $80 for brand name drugs, but only $1 for generics,” said Colette DeJong, a UCSF medical student who was involved in the study.


Previous studies have shown that doctors who take payments from pharmaceutical companies through activities like paid speeches are more likely to prescribe the more expensive name brand drugs.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Medicare Rights President Joe Baker Testifies at Congressional Hearing in Support of Part B Drug Payment Model



Washington, DC. May 25, 2016Medicare Rights Center President Joe Baker testified in support of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) proposal to test new ways to pay for prescription drugs covered under Medicare Part B, at a hearing held by the Subcommittee on Health of the U.S. House Committee on Energy and Commerce.
“Calls to withdraw the Part B Drug Payment Model fail to acknowledge the very real and unrelenting beneficiary access challenges that exist under the current payment system—not merely hypothetical ones. We applaud CMS for proposing to test solutions that have the potential to alleviate calamitous cost burdens, which cause too many older adults and people with disabilities to forgo necessary care,” said Joe Baker in his testimony.

“We urge members of Congress to support and strengthen the proposal by recommending improvements that put patients at the center of the payment model.”

The Medicare Rights Center’s support for the CMS proposal is informed by the organization’s experience working with people with Medicare and their families for more than two decades.

Medicare Rights answers nearly 17,000 questions on its national helpline and provides educational tools and resources to over two million beneficiaries, family caregivers, and professionals annually. Challenges affording needed health care are a common theme heard on the helpline, affecting nearly one in five callers.

  Sky-high cost sharing for Part B prescription drugs is a notable concern, most often for cancer and immunosuppressant medications.

“People with Medicare and taxpayers deserve a Medicare program that pays for high-value, innovative health care. The Part B Drug Payment Model presents an important opportunity to ensure that the Medicare program meets this high bar,” said Baker.  
The Medicare Rights Center also submitted comments in support of the CMS proposed Part B Drug Payment Model during the public comment period that ended on May 9.
To read Joe Baker’s testimony from the hearing, visit the Medicare Rights Center’s website.