THE PROGNOSIS President Trump announces a plan to lower Medicare Part B drug spending at the Department of Health and Human Services.
(Chip Somodevilla/Pool/EPA-EFE/REX) It was with much gusto and fanfare that President Trump announced in October an effort to tamp down spending on certain Medicare drugs by aligning payments with other countries pay, promising such a move would go far toward his vow to lower prescription drug spending in the United States.
He’s already frustrated by recent reports that drug companies are going through with some large price increases in 2019, calling Azar and other top officials to the White House on Tuesday to berate them over the issue and demand results.
Instead of paying doctors the average U.S. sale price of a drug, Medicare would peg payments to a new international index of drug prices in other countries with similar economies — effectively lowering the price Medicare pays.
The American Cancer Society asked that oncology drugs — which make up 42 percent of Part B spending — be excluded from the experiment so patients don’t find it harder to access them.
It would remove incentives for doctors to prescribe pricier drugs by paying them a flat fee for storing the medications instead of a fee based on a percentage of the drug’s price.
Yesterday, Patients for Affordable Drugs announced it will spend about $1 million on digital ads applauding the Part B effort.
“We’re standing up in support of this change because America’s prescription drug pricing system is broken, and patients need change now,” Mitchell said in a statement announcing the ad buy.
AHH, OOF and OUCH (iStock) AHH: Louisiana officials unveiled a new payment model for hepatitis C treatments that our Post colleague Carolyn Y. Johnson writes is meant to “dramatically increase the number of people who can be cured of the liver-damaging disease and provide a model for others struggling to afford the medications.”
Louisiana is soliciting bids from drug companies for the contract, and Carolyn writes the state is aiming to treat 10,000 people with hepatitis C by 2020.
Scott Applewhite, File) OOF: Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) is calling on the Department of Health and Human Services to move ahead with the administration’s vow to take on the drug rebate system.
(Charles Mostoller/Reuters) OUCH: New data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows the rate of drug overdose deaths among women spiked sharply from 1999 to 2017.
“In that time, drug overdose deaths involving antidepressants, cocaine, heroin, prescription opioids, synthetic opioids and benzodiazepines such as such as Xanax and Valium all increased,” CNN’s Jacqueline Howard reports.
While the death rates saw increase for drug categories across the board, Jacqueline reports there were notable spikes in deaths related to synthetic opioids, which increased 1,643 percent; heroin, which rose 915 percent; and benzodiazepines at 830 percent.
At a news conference to introduce their bills on Thursday, Cummings and Sanders criticized the Trump administration’s limited efforts to bring down drug prices despite vowing to do so.
“For decades, safe and affordable prescription drugs have been for sale just across the border, but legally out of reach for American families,” Grassley said in a statement.
— For its first hearing of the new Congress later this month, the House Oversight and Reform Committee will address drug prices.
In a statement, Cummings, chairman of the panel, said the hearing will help launch a “broad review of the skyrocketing prices of prescription drugs.”
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