Monday, December 26, 2016

Brand Name Drug Prices Increase Nearly 130 Times Faster Than Inflation

New AARP report shows fourth straight year of double-digit price average annual increases for widely used brand name drugs

Washington/PRNewswire-USNewswire/, December 2016-- Retail prices for brand name prescription drugs widely used by older Americans rose by an average of 15.5% in 2015—almost 130 times faster than the 0.1% general inflation rate—according to a new AARP Public Policy Institute (PPI) report 


AARP's Rx Price Watch Report: Trends in Retail Prices of Brand Name Prescription Drugs Widely Used by Older Americans, 2006-2015, shows that the average annual cost for one brand name drug used on a chronic basis now exceeds $5,800.

For the average older American taking 4.5 prescription drugs per month, this translates into an average annual cost of therapy of $26,000*. This amount exceeds the median income of $24,150 for Medicare beneficiaries.   

Retail Prices for 6 Brand Name Drugs Increased by 500%+ from 2006-2015

"This new report once again highlights the high and unrelenting price increases that are shockingly common in the pharmaceutical market," said AARP Chief Public Policy Officer Debra Whitman.

"What's particularly remarkable is that these incredibly high price increases are still occurring in the face of the intense public and congressional criticism of prescription drug pricing practices."

Highlights of the Rx Price Watch Report
  • The average annual retail price increase for widely used brand name prescription drugs was more than two and a half times higher in 2015 (15.5%) than in 2006 (5.9%).
  • Brand name drug prices increased almost 130 times faster than general inflation in 2015 (15.5% vs 0.1%).
  • In 2015, the average annual retail cost of one brand name medication used to treat a chronic health condition more than $5,800, compared with nearly $1,800 in 2006.
  • Retail prices increased for 97% of the 268 brand name prescription drugs in the study's market basket.
  • Seven widely used brand name drugs had average annual retail price increases of over 50% in 2015.
  • Five of the six drugs with the highest cumulative price increases over the study period were marketed by Valeant Pharmaceuticals. The retail price of Valeant's anti-anxiety drug, Ativan 1 mg tablets, increased by 2,873% between 2006 and 2015.

"Prescription drug therapy is not affordable when its cost exceeds the patient's entire income," said Leigh Purvis, Director of Health Services Research, AARP Public Policy Institute, and co-author of the report.

 "Even if patients are fortunate enough to have good health care coverage, high prescription drug costs translate into higher out-of-pocket costs—especially for those who pay a percentage of drug costs rather than a fixed copayment—as well as higher premiums, deductibles, and other forms of cost-sharing."

Rx Price Watch Report Methodology

AARP's Public Policy Institute, in collaboration with the PRIME Institute at the University of Minnesota, developed a market basket of 268 brand name prescription drug products widely used by older Americans.

Using data from the Truven Health MarketScan® Research Databases, the report analyzed retail price changes between 2006 and 2015 for the drug products in the market basket.

The medications include products in 49 therapeutic categories used to treat common and often chronic health conditions, including high cholesterol, diabetes, and hypertension.

This report is the latest in the AARP Public Policy Institute's Rx Price Watch series. Separate reports analyze price changes for widely used generic and specialty drug products.

The series also analyzes the price changes for an overall market basket (i.e., brand name, generic, and specialty drug products combined) to reflect the overall market impact of drug price changes.

The full report can be found here: http://www.aarp.org/rxpricewatch

*These prices reflect the total costs for specific prescriptions and may not reflect the actual out-of-pocket costs (such as a copay) that a consumer would pay at the pharmacy.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Congressional letter to President chance for Obama, Trump to lower prescription drug prices by personal importation

Trump, Obama urged, cooperate to allow personally imported meds
An unaffordable medicine is unavailable in and of itself because of the price, and a medicine that is not taken because it is unavailable is of no value
— Daniel Hines

ST. LOUIS, MO, USA, December 20, 2016 /EINPresswire.com/ -- The publisher of Rx for American Health and the American Rx Bill of Rights says that a Congressional letter sent to President Barrack Obama from 33 Democrat Congressmen requesting him to use executive action on a number of fronts to lower prescription drug costs offers a chance at a cooperative effort by the President and President-elect Donald Trump that could provide relief for millions of Americans from the abusive pricing practices of Pharma by jointly recognizing the rights of Americans to have access to safe, affordable and authentic personally imported medicines.

Daniel Hines notes that both the President and the President-elect have expressed their support of a role for personal importation.

“In 2008, then-Candidate Obama pledged to support the personal importation of safe, affordable 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.,” Hines notes.

“Significantly, President-Elect Trump has called for ‘Removal of barriers to entry into free markets for drug providers that offer safe, reliable and cheaper products,’” Hines notes.

Also, in an interview upon his selection as TIME Magazine’s ‘Person of the Year,’ the President-elect said that his intent remains to “lower prescription drug costs” although he admitted that he still hadn’t decided upon just how to do it.

“In yet another twist in this strangest of Presidential elections, the President-Elect could actually offer President Obama a chance at establishing a favorable part of the Obama legacy—a role in which both men can exhibit the type of bi-partisanship that would reflect favorably upon them, all the while offering millions of Americans price relief from the abusive pricing practices of Pharma by recognition Executive recognition of the rights of Americans to have access to safe, affordable and authentic personally imported medicines,” Hines says.

The key, Hines says, is for President Obama to sign an executive order requested by the Congressional letter to “ explore implementing drug importation rules that are already part of U.S. law. Under authority from the Medicare Prescription Drug Improvement and Modernization Act of 2003, the Secretary of Health and Human Services can certify the importation of prescription drugs from other countries under specific qualifications. This regulatory action would pose no risk to public health and safety and could result in a significant reduction in the cost of prescription drugs to American families.”

This should be followed by the President-elect openly declaring his support of the President’s action, accompanied by a vow to let the order stand as a part of his campaign pledge to support personal importation and to explicitly legalize the personal importation of medicine from licensed registered pharmacies in (Tier One) countries whose standards of safety and efficacy meet or exceed those of the U.S.

Hines notes that Candidate-Trump had at one time vowed to rescind every Executive Order issued by President Obama, but since then, President-Elect Trump has softened his stance, saying he would only rescind those that he considered ‘illegal.’

“A cooperative action by the President and the President-elect would enable both men to fulfill stances taken during their respective campaigns to take actions to lower prescription drug prices,’ Hines explains.

He notes that Candidate Obama openly supported establishing a role for Personal Importation of safe, affordable prescription medicines from licensed, registered pharmacies in Tier One Countries whose standards of safety and efficacy meet or exceed those of the U.S. in 2008, only to abandon his stance under pressure from Pharma to abandon his stance during behind-closed doors meetings leading to the Affordable Care Act, which itself now faces dismantling.

“By issuing the executive order requested in the Congressional letter, the President could ensure a part of his legacy by acting on behalf of millions of Americans who simply cannot afford their medicines. An unaffordable medicine is unavailable in and of itself because of the price, and a medicine that is not taken because it is unavailable is of no value,” he says.

“For the President-elect, cite your campaign pledge to support personal importation, let President Obama know of your support of his issuance of the Executive Order, and that there will be no attempts to set it aside by your Administration,” Hines says.

Hines notes that such action also gives the President-elect a unique opportunity to set a tone for his Administration ensuring that unelected bureaucrats of the Food and Drug Administration are subject to the clearly expressed intent of Congress, not the whims of a particular industry segment.

“That is why we urge the President and the President-elect to take the actions necessary to compel the Secretary of HHS to act , and to do so in a fair and partial manner that reflects that personally imported authentic medicines at potential savings of up to 60 percent are being denied to Americans, or for those who do engage in personal importation of their medicines, their medicines are subject to potential seizure and destruction only because of labeling differences that are required by the countries of origin of the imported medicine. The seizures can take place irrespective of the authenticity of the medicines,” Hines continues.

“Also, for President-Elect Trump, cooperation and support of such an Executive Order will illustrate that he is concerned about the health and well-being of Americans, and that he recognizes that lack of access to affordable medicines is the wind that reaps the whirlwind of Pharma pricing abuses, and consequences of costly, even possibly life-threatening health conditions that could have been avoided,” Hines concludes.

The full Subtitle of the Medicare Prescription Drug Improvement and Modernization Act of 2003 follows:
Subtitle C: Importation of Prescription Drugs - (Sec. 1121) Directs the Secretary to promulgate regulations permitting pharmacists and wholesalers to import prescription drugs from Canada into the United States. Sets forth specified provisions respecting: (1) importer and foreign seller recordkeeping and information requirements; (2) qualified laboratory drug testing; (3) registration with the Secretary of Canadian sellers; and (4) approved labeling.
Daniel Hines
RxforAmericanHealth
636-399-2849
email us here


Monday, December 19, 2016

Congressional request to President Obama offers chance for cooperative effort by Obama-Trump to lower prescription drug prices via personally imported medicines

How Trump and Obama could cooperate to lower drug costs
In an interview upon his selection as TIME Magazine’s  ‘Person of the Year,’ President-elect Donald Trump said that his intent remains to “lower prescription drug costs” although he admitted that he still hadn’t decided upon just how to do it.

The President-elect has also repeatedly expressed his ‘admiration’ for President Obama, admitting that he was surprised at the good, even friendly, relationship that is emerging between them.

This is ironic since during the Campaign, Candidate-Trump vowed to rescind every Executive Order issued by President Obama.  Since then, President-Elect Trump has softened his stance, saying he would only rescind those that he considered ‘illegal.’

Therein lies what may be the key to opening the door to allow President-elect Trump to achieve his goal to lower prescription drug costs, thanks to his new-found friendly relationship with President Obama.

And, in yet another twist in this strangest of Presidential elections, he may actually offer President Obama a chance at establishing what could be a part of the Obama legacy—a role in which both men can exhibit the type of bi-partisanship that would reflect favorably upon them, all the while offering millions of Americans price relief from the abusive pricing practices of Pharma, i.e., a recognition of the rights of American patients to have access to safe, affordable and authentic personally imported medicines.

The opportunity is actually created by an October 2016 letter from 33 Democrat Congressmen to President Obama requesting him to use executive action on a number of fronts to lower prescription drug costs, and to prevent further outrageous unmerited price increases by Pharma.

It has become increasingly apparent that personal importation of prescription medicines is the only readily available and most immediate relief to Pharma pricing practices as evidenced by the Representatives’ request to “…  encourage your administration to explore implementing drug importation rules that are already part of U.S. law. Under authority from the Medicare Prescription Drug Improvement and Modernization Act of 2003, the Secretary of Health and Human Services can certify the importation of prescription drugs from other countries under specific qualifications. This regulatory action would pose no risk to public health and safety and could result in a significant reduction in the cost of prescription drugs to American families.”

It is significant that the letter indicates the complete lack of adherence by both the Bush II and Obama Administrations to the intent of Congress by allowing the Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) to ignore the specific letter of the law.

That is why we urge the President and the President-elect to take the actions necessary to compel the Secretary to act , and to do so in a fair and partial manner that reflects that personally imported authentic medicines at potential savings of up to 60 percent are being denied to Americans, or for those who do engage in personal importation of their medicines, their medicines are subject to potential seizure and destruction only because of labeling differences that are required by the countries of origin of the imported medicine.  The seizures can take place irrespective of the authenticity of the medicines.

By issuing the executive order requested by the Congressional letter, President Obama will  act on behalf of millions of Americans who simply cannot afford their medicines.  An unaffordable medicine is unavailable in and of itself because of the price, and a medicine that is not taken because it is unavailable is of no value.

For the President-elect, cite your campaign pledge to support personal importation, let President Obama know of your support of his issuance of an Executive Order to ensure that unelected bureaucrats are subject to the clearly expressed intent of Congress, not the whims of a particular industry segment, that there will be attempts to set-aside such an Executive Order by your administration.

In 2008, then-Candidate Obama pledged to support the personal importation of safe, affordable 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.

It seemed at the time that personal importation, which had long been practiced by millions of Americans seeking the health benefits made possible by access to their maintenance medicines was finally about to be a part of a policy to lower prescription drug costs.

Senator Claire McCaskill (D-MO), a long-time supporter of Personal Importation, told me, after a hearing she was holding in St. Louis on Medicare Advantage plan abuses,  that legislation allowing personal importation of medicines would be one of the first pieces of legislation that the newly elected President Obama would sign, and it would be on his desk within 48 hours of his inauguration.

That never happened.

Instead, President Obama Administration, faced with challenges on a number of fronts, and acting in the belief that his legacy would be based upon passage and implementation of a sweeping health care bill,  engaged in secret, behind-closed-doors meetings with the very forces of Pharma who agreed to not launch ‘Harry-Louise’ type of campaign that derailed ‘Hillarycare’, in return for shaping many provisions of the law that were favorable to it.

For President-Elect Trump, cooperation and support of such an Executive Order will illustrate that you are concerned about the health and well-being of Americans, and that you recognize that lack of access to affordable medicines is the wind that reaps the whirlwind of Pharma pricing abuses, and consequences of costly, even possibly life-threatening health conditions that could have been avoided.

The full Subtitle of the Medicare Prescription Drug Improvement and Modernization Act of 2003 follows:

Subtitle C: Importation of Prescription Drugs - (Sec. 1121) Directs the Secretary to promulgate regulations permitting pharmacists and wholesalers to import prescription drugs from Canada into the United States. Sets forth specified provisions respecting: (1) importer and foreign seller recordkeeping and information requirements; (2) qualified laboratory drug testing; (3) registration with the Secretary of Canadian sellers; and (4) approved labeling.

Friday, December 2, 2016

President-Elect Trump Urged: Act on Campaign Pledge to allow personal importation of safe, affordable medicines

Minneapolis, MN, (December 2, 2016)—President-elect Donald 

Trump is being urged to act
immediately  upon assuming office to explicitly legalize the personal importation of medicine from licensed registered pharmacies in (Tier One) countries whose standards of safety and efficacy meet or exceed those of the U.S.
In an open letter to the President-elect from Lee Graczyk, lead organizer of RxRights, and Daniel Hines, publisher of TodaysSeniorsNetwork, RxforAmericanHealth and the American Rx Bill of Rights blogs, cite his campaign pledge to support the importation of safe prescription medicines from other countries, and that the U.S. pharmaceutical industry has been instrumental in blocking legal importation even though untold numbers of Americans already safely rely upon personal importation which is subject to seizure and possible destruction, even of authentic medicines.
The letter is based upon a long-standing mantra of supporters that a medicine that is unaffordable is, in and of itself, unavailable, thereby leading to harm to the health and well-being the medicines are developed to prevent.
The letter notes that “ Virtually all medicines the FDA would deny access to are identical to those manufactured in FDA-approved facilities outside the U.S.—the only difference being the label, which reflects requirements of the medicine’s country of origin.”
The letter points out that hours of Congressional hearings about the pricing abuses of Pharma have had no impact on the costs of prescription medicines,  all the while that an October Kaiser Health Tracking Poll found 74 percent of the American public believes high prescription drug prices are a priority issue.
 “Personal importation is an immediate strategy to allow competition and access to safe affordable medications,” the letter says.

A copy of the letter follows:

An Open Letter to President-Elect Donald Trump:

Dear Mr. President-Elect:

The nation anxiously looks to you for leadership on the many challenges our country faces in the months and years ahead. One major challenge is access to affordable medicine.
Before the 2016 election, you made a number of statements regarding Americans' need for affordable prescription drugs. In particular:
·          You noted the U.S. pharmaceutical industry has been instrumental in blocking importation legislation (even though untold numbers of Americans already rely on importation).
·          You said you would support the importation of safe prescription drugs from other countries.
An October Kaiser Health Tracking Poll found 74 percent of the American public believes high prescription drug prices are a priority issue. Prescription drug prices in the U.S. are the highest in the world. Americans often pay twice as much or more than other countries.
Hours of Congressional hearings on outrageous prescription medicine prices have not yielded a speedy solution for citizens struggling to afford medicine. Personal importation is an immediate strategy to allow competition and access to safe affordable medications.
Consider these points:
·          The Food and Drug Administration currently allows personal importation of prescription medicines if they are unavailable in this country or if they’re carried across the border in person by the patient. 
·          Virtually all medicines the FDA would deny access to are identical to those manufactured in FDA-approved facilities outside the U.S.—the only difference being the label, which reflects requirements of the medicine’s country of origin.
·          PhRMA has a proven record of undue and troubling influence in healthcare policy.
o   The lobbying group met with the President of the United States in closed-door meetings to influence prescription policy related to the Affordable Care Act.
o   PhRMA and its front groups influence the U.S. House of Representatives and the Senate through millions of dollars of campaign contributions.
Your administration has the authority to address the public health crisis created by out of control drug prices. We urge you to act to explicitly legalize the personal importation of medicine from licensed registered pharmacies in (Tier One) countries whose standards of safety and efficacy meet or exceed those of the U.S.
Sincerely,

Lee Graczyk,
Lead Organizer
RxRights.org

Daniel Hines
Publisher
TodaysSeniorsNetwork.com


Thursday, December 1, 2016

New Survey: Consumers Hold Drug Companies Responsible for High Prices and Out-of-Pocket Costs

WASHINGTON, Nov. 30, 2016 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- A new national survey finds most voters blame drug companies not only for high drug prices, but also for out-of-pocket costs. The findings undermine the drug industry's $100 million PR campaign to blame higher costs on employers, unions, health plans and the pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs) they use to negotiate discounts on prescription drugs.

"Consumers are well aware drug companies set drug prices and they know higher prices mean higher out-of-pocket costs. No one's buying the drug companies' campaign to shift blame to employers, unions, plans, or the PBMs that negotiate discounts on their behalf," said Pharmaceutical Care Management Association (PCMA) President and CEO Mark Merritt.

North Star Opinion Research surveyed 1,000 registered voters nationwide.

Key findings from survey include:
By almost 3-to-1, voters blame high drug prices for increased cost-sharing.
Only 1-in-5 voters buy the drugmakers' "rebates cause high prices" message.
Three-quarters of voters say the cost of prescription drugs is too high.
More than 4-of-5 voters with prescription drug coverage are satisfied with it.
PCMA is the national association representing America's pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs). PBMs administer prescription drug plans for more than 266 million Americans who have health insurance from a variety of sponsors including: commercial health plans, self-insured employer plans, union plans, Medicare Part D plans, the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program (FEHBP), state government employee plans, managed Medicaid plans, and others.


SOURCE Pharmaceutical Care Management Association