Thursday, April 20, 2017

NuView Life Sciences Calls for Solutions as Cancer Drug Costs Escalate

 The out-of-pocket price of many life-saving cancer medications continues to grow, while insurance companies continue to raise deductibles and copays. Patients, who are paying more for their prescriptions than ever before, need solutions that offer cost-effective treatment.

April 20, 2017--Cancer remains the second leading cause of death in the United States, and more often than ever before, patients are feeling the financial burden of obtaining potentially life-saving cancer drugs. Newer cancer medications can cost patients over $100,000 each year, and it’s not uncommon for patients to spend an average of $8,700 each month on the medications they need to fight the disease.

Drug costs are skyrocketing as many insurance companies raise deductibles and copayments, forcing many patients to pay more out-of-pocket for the medications that could save their lives. In response, companies such as NuView Life Sciences are calling for drug cost solutions that give patients a more affordable way to receive the treatment they need.

Only 50 years ago, it was common for new anticancer drugs to cost an average of $100 each month, but now many patients regularly pay close to $10,000 every month.

 Many patients—especially those under age 65 with no access to Medicare or high-deductible insurance plans—simply cannot afford these drugs.

Due to financial concerns, 32% of individuals recently diagnosed with cancer and 28% of individuals with a past history of cancer ask their doctors for lower-cost medications.

Unfortunately for some patients, some lower-cost cancer medications simply slow the progression of cancer rather than providing effective, disease-halting treatment.

Lower-cost drugs, such as those that are off-brand or generic, can also come with a range of possible side effects the patient might experience, from no effect at all to death.

Paul Crowe, CEO of NuView Life Sciences, said, “We’re experiencing a healthcare crisis in which patients are diagnosed with a potentially deadly disease and offered a treatment option, only to find out they can’t afford the treatment.

“ This financial stress can be extremely demoralizing at a time when it’s crucial that the patient is in the right state of mind to fight the disease. These patients need solutions when it comes to paying for the medications that could save their lives.”

Companies like NuView are at the forefront of the movement to find better, more cost-effective solutions that enable patients to achieve the best possible outcomes from treatment. In the future, NuView hopes its NV-VPAC1 technology platform could be used to deliver targeted, highly-effective anticancer drugs directly to cancer cells.

There is also some push to take the production of anticancer medications out of the hands of the pharmaceutical industry. In attempts to curb the rising costs of these drugs, some hospitals are beginning to purchase cancer medications collectively.

 Additionally, physicians and other professionals are calling for a review of the way many cancer drugs are packaged.

Some cancer drugs come in vials that contain more medication than the patient actually needs. Even though leftover medication must often be discarded for safety reasons, the prices of these drugs have not fallen to reflect the amount of medication wasted. It’s estimated that up to $2.8 billion is wasted every year simply because of the way cancer drugs are packaged.

Crowe said, “If we can find different ways to provide patients with much-needed anticancer drugs that are more affordable and ensure the patient receives proper care, we would be doing patients across the world a disservice by choosing not to explore those options.

“Companies and drug manufacturers must take the initiative to find ways to lower the cost of these medications while giving patients the life-saving treatments they need.”

About NuView Life Sciences:
Founded in 2005, NuView Life Sciences is a biotechnology company located in Park City, Utah, working to improve the way cancer is diagnosed and treated in our modern healthcare system. NuView is focused on creating precision cancer diagnostics and therapeutics to improve patient outcomes while reducing healthcare costs through the development and clinical application of its exclusive peptide analog technology, NV-VPAC1. Led by a team of industry experts with decades of combined experience in healthcare and medical imaging technologies, NuView is poised to change how we look for and respond to cancer. To learn more about NuView Life Sciences, please visit http://nuviewinfo.com/site/3/.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Nonprofit working to block drug imports has ties to pharma lobby

BusinessEmily Kopp Rachel Bluth · Kaiser Health News · Apr 18, 2017

A nonprofit organization that has orchestrated a wide-reaching campaign against foreign drug imports has deep ties to the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, or PhRMA, the powerful lobbying group that includes Eli Lilly, Pfizer and Bayer.

The nonprofit, called the Partnership for Safe Medicines, has recently emerged as a leading voice against Senate bills that would allow drugs to be imported from Canada.

Both the lobbying group and the nonprofit partnership have gone to great lengths to show that drugmakers are not driving what they describe as a grass-roots effort to fight imports, including an expensive advertising blitz and an event last week that featured high-profile former FBI officials and a former Food and Drug Administration commissioner.

However, a Kaiser Health News analysis of groups involved in the partnership shows more than one-third have received PhRMA funding or are local chapters of groups that have received PhRMA funding, according to PhRMA tax disclosures from 2013 to 2015.

Forty-seven of the organizations listed in the ads appear to be advocacy organizations that received no money from PhRMA in those years.

A PhRMA senior vice president, Scott LaGanga, previously led the Partnership for Safe Medicines for 10 years. At PhRMA, LaGanga was responsible for the lobbying group's alliances with patient advocacy groups, and he was simultaneously listed as the executive director of the Partnership for Safe Medicines on each of that group's annual tax filings since 2007, the earliest year for which they are available from ProPublica's Nonprofit Explorer.

LaGanga wrote a 2011 article about the partnership's origins. Published in the Journal of Commercial Biotechnology, it described "public-private partnerships in addressing counterfeit medicines." His PhRMA job was not disclosed in the article.

From 2010 to 2014, the organization hosted a conference called the Partnership for Safe Medicines Interchange. In a video from a 2013 event, LaGanga thanks pharmaceutical companies, most of them PhRMA members, for sponsoring the event.

In February, LaGanga moved to a senior role at PhRMA and stepped down as executive director of the Partnership for Safe Medicines, just as the group's campaign to stop import legislation was revving up.

The partnership's new executive director, Shabbir Safdar, said LaGanga resigned from the group to avoid the appearance of a conflict of interest.

"That's why Scott's not executive director anymore," he said. PhRMA declined to make LaGanga available for an interview.

Considering Legislation
The Senate push to allow Americans to buy pharmaceuticals from Canada comes as more patients balk at filling prescriptions because of soaring drug prices. Prescription medicines purchased in the U.S. can run three times what they cost in Canada, data from the company PharmacyChecker.com show.

In 2016, about 19 million Americans purchased pharmaceuticals illegally from foreign sources through online pharmacies or while traveling, according to a Kaiser Family Foundation poll. Many survey respondents cited pricing disparities as the reason.

A bill cosponsored by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) would provide a mechanism for Canadian drug manufacturers to sell to U.S. consumers and pharmacies. Sanders introduced the bill in February. In January, Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) also introduced a bill to allow drug imports from Canada.

In the House, Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) introduced a similar bill to Sanders', along with 23 other Democrats.

The U.S. drug industry has strongly opposed efforts to open the borders to drug imports, but the PhRMA lobbying group is not mentioned in the nonprofit partnership's recent advertising blitz against the proposed legislation. The nonprofit says its grass-roots effort is supported by 170 members, including professional organizations and trade groups.

The nonprofit describes PhRMA as a dues-paying member with no larger role in shaping the group's activities. Partnership spokeswoman Clare Krusing would not say how much each member contributes. PhRMA spokeswoman Allyson Funk declined to say whether PhRMA funds the partnership.

"PhRMA engages with stakeholders across the health care system to hear their perspectives and priorities," Funk said. "We work with many organizations with which we have both agreements and disagreements on public policy issues, and believe engagement and dialogue are critical."

Campaigning Against Drug Imports
The partnership recently launched its ad campaign, warning against the alleged dangers of legalizing Canadian drug imports. It includes television commercials, promoted search results on Google and a full-page print ad in The Washington Post and The Hill. The group's YouTube page shows recent commercials targeted to viewers in 13 states.

"We don't disclose specific ad figures, but the campaign is in the high six figures," Safdar said.

The commercials ask voters to urge their senators to "oppose dangerous drug importation legislation."

The newspaper ad reads, "Keep the nation's prescription drug supply safe. Urge the Senate to reject drug importation measures." Its headline declares that "170 healthcare advocacy groups oppose drug importation," noting a letter to Congress signed by its members. The ad lists 160 members who signed the letter, and PhRMA's name is not included.

"Having a big membership allows the coalition to present what looks like a unified show of grass-roots support ... but it does raise questions about which members of the coalition are really driving and funding the group's policy-making," said Matthew McCoy, a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Pennsylvania who studies patient advocacy groups.

The list of groups includes at least 64 trade organizations representing the biomedical industry, professional associations representing pharmacists, a private research company and two insurance companies.

One group that signed the letter, the "Citrus Council, National Kidney Foundation of Florida Inc.," represents a single volunteer, according to an email from the group. A spokesman for the National Kidney Foundation of Florida said the volunteer's views contradict the position of the umbrella group, and said the foundation supports "any sort of drug importation that allows our patients to have access to drugs at the best price."

Two of the hepatitis patients' advocacy groups that were listed, the National Association of Hepatitis Task Forces and the California Hepatitis C Task Force, are run by the same person, Bill Remak. Remak said the groups receive small amounts of PhRMA funding.

"I don't enjoy having to take this extreme position of saying we shouldn't import at all, but until we have some oversight regime, some way of protecting consumers, it's a really tough call," he said.

"Current drug importation proposals do not appear to have equal safety and chain-of-custody accountability laid out adequately for patient safety concerns," said William Arnold, president of the Community Access National Network, which is also listed in the ad and is an advocacy and support group for people living with HIV/AIDS or hepatitis in Washington, D.C. His group did not accept money from PhRMA between 2013 to 2015, the Kaiser Health News analysis found.

Concerns About Safety And Price
Last week, the partnership hosted a panel at the National Press Club featuring former FBI director Louis Freeh and former FDA commissioner Dr. Andrew von Eschenbach. The discussion focused on the alleged health and legal dangers of online pharmacies.

"You can talk about lowering prices, but if a drug comes with a high probability of toxicity and death, that comes at a high cost to the patient," von Eschenbach said. "That's what's at issue with drug importation."

Each speaker argued that the bill co-sponsored by Sanders would be harmful to patients. Around the same time that bill was introduced, the partnership also sent emails to member organizations seeking help to stop such a measure.

Speakers at the partnership event claimed importation would lead to a flood of counterfeit medicines laced with arsenic, fentanyl and lead paint.

"These drugs are manufactured in jungles, in tin drums, in basements. ... Those are the sort of sanitary conditions we're talking about here," said George Karavetsos, a former director of the FDA's Office of Criminal Investigations.

Both von Eschenbach and Karavetsos have ties to the pharmaceutical industry. Von Eschenbach left the FDA in 2009 to join Greenleaf Health, which counsels pharmaceutical clients, before starting his own consulting company, and Karavetsos counsels pharmaceutical clients at DLA Piper, a Washington, D.C., law firm.

In an interview, Josh Miller-Lewis, Sanders' deputy director of communications, refuted Karavetsos' arguments. He said Canadian drugmakers can apply for licenses, and all drugs would have to come from FDA-inspected plants.

Politico reported in October that PhRMA is bolstering its war chest by another $100 million per year, suggesting to many industry analysts that drugmakers are gearing up for a ferocious fight.

"I think it's safe to say pharmaceutical corporations are prepared to spend some fraction of their multibillion-dollar profits to fight drug importation and any other policy that might end the plague of overpriced medicine," said Rick Claypool, research director for Public Citizen, a watchdog group critical of the drug industry.