Despite All The Talk About Cutting Drug Costs, Triple-Digit Spikes In Prices Are Still Around

News outlets report on stories related to pharmaceutical pricing.

What Trump Pushback? Bayer Hikes Prices On Two Cancer Drugs

Even as the Trump administration looks for ways to mollify angry consumers over rising drug prices, some companies continue to push the proverbial envelope. Take Bayer. Late last month, the drug maker boosted wholesale, or list, prices for two cancer drugs by 7.9 percent. And that followed 5 percent price hikes last December. In other words, prices rose by 13 percent for each drug in half a year, greatly exceeding inflation and above the 10 percent annual cap that some drug makers have voluntarily embraced. (Silverman, 6/7)

The Washington Post:
Two Weeks After Trump Unveiled Plan To Lower Drug Prices, Two Cancer Drugs Got A $1,000-Per-Month Price Hike

Two weeks after President Trump in May unveiled a plan to lower drug prices for Americans, promising “it will start to take effect very soon,” the drug company Bayer hiked the list prices of two cancer drugs by more than $1,000 per month. Bayer wasn’t alone. A research note by Wells Fargo analyst David Maris found that although fewer drug-price increases occurred in May than in previous months, dozens of increases did occur.“We believe drug pricing remains a risk for the pharmaceutical industry,” Maris wrote. “The President has highlighted lowering the cost of healthcare as a key objective and we do not expect the negative commentary around the cost of medicines will soon subside.” (Johnson, 6/8)

Modern Healthcare:
Generic Competition Not A Cure-All For High Drug Prices 

Bringing more generic drugs to market is a critical component of lowering drug prices, but it is not a panacea, according to a new report. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has looked to increase generic competition as the primary lever to stem sky high drug prices. While the agency has succeeded in doing so, there’s a ceiling on the ultimate impact of that plan, researchers from PricewaterhouseCoopers said. (Kacik, 6/12)

The Wall Street Journal:
Under Pressure To Tighten Supply Chain, Drug Companies Look To Blockchain

Under federal pressure to tighten the pharmaceutical supply chain and keep drugs from falling into the wrong hands, drug companies are ramping up experiments with promising but unproven blockchain technologies. AmerisourceBergen Corp. and Merck & Co. Inc. plan to expand a test project completed last year that tracked the ownership of drugs moving through the health-care supply chain. The new test will increase the number of drugs and health-care devices and perform more complex transactions, said Dale Danilewitz, chief information officer at the drug distributor. (Nash, 6/6)

Drugmaker Revives Female Libido Pill At Half The Price

Sprout Pharmaceuticals Inc. is relaunching Addyi, the first-ever approved drug for low libido in women — and it’s slashing the drug’s price in half. The new price will be $400, down from $800 for a monthly prescription. The uninsured and those not covered for the treatment will pay no more than $99. It’s a rare step for a pharmaceutical company: Drugs typically go up in price on an annual basis, sometimes even twice a year. (Koons, 6/11)

Clinical Trial Participants May Not Trust Pharma, But They’d Still Share Their Data

Despite mistrust of the pharmaceutical industry, most people who participate in clinical trials are willing to have their data shared with researchers who work at drug companies, although concerns remain that the information may be used for marketing purposes, according to a new study. Specifically, 44 percent of clinical trial participants who were queried indicated that they have little to no trust in drug makers, yet overall, 82 percent said they were very or somewhat likely to allow scientists at for-profit companies to access their data. (Silverman, 6/11)

Another Alzheimer’s Drug Fails As Lilly, Astra Halt Tests

Eli Lilly & Co. and AstraZeneca Plc ended two late-stage trials of an experimental drug for Alzheimer’s disease after the treatment failed to show any signs of working, adding to a litany of disappointments for the memory-robbing illness. An independent data-monitoring committee found that the medicine, lanabecestat, was unlikely to meet the goals of the studies, one for early Alzheimer’s and the other for mild dementia related to the disease, the companies said in a statement Tuesday. There were no safety concerns, they said. (Serafino, 6/12)

The Wall Street Journal:
Eli Lilly, AstraZeneca Drop Two Late-Stage Alzheimer’s Drug Trials

AstraZeneca PLC and Eli Lilly & Co. on Tuesday scrapped two late-stage trials of an experimental Alzheimer’s drug they were co-developing, the latest blow in the long quest to find a breakthrough for the memory-robbing disorder.
The companies said the decision was taken after an independent data-monitoring committee concluded that trials associated with lanabecestat, the experimental drug, wouldn’t achieve their original goals. The companies said the treatment wasn’t working as well as they had hoped and that ending the trials wasn’t a result of any safety concerns. (Rana and Loftun, 6/12)

The Trouble With Those Post-Marketing Studies Required By The FDA 

To ensure a new drug works properly after marketing approval is granted, the Food and Drug Administration regularly requires a drug company to run a so-called post-marketing study. But a new analysis found a troubling lack of timely follow-through as well as basic information. Specifically, one in four studies was never publicly disseminated. Meanwhile, there was often little information about post-marketing requirements — the median description was just 44 words — and some were difficult to categorize. There was also a lack of up-to-date information on the progress of about one-third of these study requirements. (Silverman, 6/12)

FDA Broadens What Information Drug Makers Can Share With Insurers

It’s a small update to a Food and Drug Administration policy first launched by the Obama administration, but top Trump health officials — and key congressional Republicans and drug makers — are nonetheless touting it as a central part of the Trump camp’s efforts to lower prescription drug prices. On Tuesday, the FDA finalized guidance documents, released in draft form in mid-January 2017, making it clear that drug and device companies are allowed to share with insurers information that is not in the FDA-approved labeling. Insurers can use that information to determine how much they should pay for the drugs, FDA commissioner Scott Gottlieb said in a statement. (Swetlitz, 6/12)

J&J Formally Accepts $2.1 Billion Offer For Diabetes Device Unit

Johnson & Johnson said it will move forward with the $2.1 billion sale of its diabetes monitoring unit LifeScan Inc. to Platinum Equity, a private investment firm. J&J said in March that it had received a $2.1 billion binding offer from Platinum Equity. On Tuesday, it said it had formally accepted that offer. The health-care company said it expects the deal to close by the end of the year. (Armstrong, 6/12)

NBC 5:
Why Prescription Drug Prices Vary

Dealing with the ever-changing landscape of prescription drug costs can be challenging. High drug prices are among the top reasons our viewers reach out to our consumer team, viewers like Larry Hammons, who depends on medication to control his seizures. Like million of Americans, he is on a fixed income, so he also depends on his medication being affordable but recently, in a pinch, he tried a different pharmacy than his usual and found his medication was triple was he normally pays. (Castro, 6/11)

This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.

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