Maryland lawmakers have passed a first-of-its kind law to create a state board that could cap payments for ultra-expensive prescription drugs, a victory advocates were thrilled to achieve. Pharma has been fighting tooth-and-nail against the legislation, yet still was handed a loss. In other pharmaceutical news: the Medicare drug rebate rule, Gilead’s workforce, and cancer drug shortages.
Stat: Despite Pharma’s Best Efforts, Maryland Advances Major Drug Pricing Bill
The drug industry has long been seen as invincible in this small state capital, where last year it retained more than 100 lobbyists: two for every state senator, plus a dozen to spare. So drug pricing advocates considered it nothing short of a triumph this past Monday when, with an hour remaining before their 2019 session expired, lawmakers passed a first-of-its kind law to create a state board that could cap payments for ultra-expensive prescription drugs. (Facher, 4/11)
Modern Healthcare: Medicare Drug Rebate Rule Still Backed By HHS’ Azar
HHS Secretary Alex Azar on Wednesday redoubled his support for a rule to eliminate the safe harbor protections for Medicare Part D and Medicaid managed-care drug rebates. Hospital and insurer groups complained in comments on the rule, which replaces the safe harbor for rebates with one for discounts delivered at the point of sale, that it doesn’t give drug companies an incentive to lower prices. Another concern was that the Jan. 1, 2020 implementation date is far too soon. (King, 4/10)
Stat: Gilead Sciences To Lay Off One-Fifth Of Sales Force As Pressures Build
Gilead Sciences (GILD) is preparing to lay off approximately 20% of its sales force now that two of its older drugs have lost patent protection and face competition from lower-priced generics, STAT has learned. The decision to cut 150 long-tenured sales people — confirmed by a Gilead spokesperson — is being explained internally as an unfortunate but necessary cost-cutting move. But to some Gilead employees, the firings are another worrisome sign that the company’s executive team, led by recently appointed CEO Daniel O’Day, is struggling to find ways to grow revenue and earnings. (Feuerstein, 4/10)
The Philadelphia Inquirer: Cancer Drug Shortages Have Little Effect On Chemotherapy Use, Study Finds
Despite chronic shortages of cancer drugs that could disrupt care, a new study has found that to have little impact on outpatient chemotherapy treatment over a seven-year period. … Since 2006, the United States has had steadily worsening shortages of generic injectable drugs — particularly older, relatively low-cost chemotherapy drugs, which work by killing fast-growing cells. (McCullough, 4/9)
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Source : Kaiser Health