The Weekly Roundup: Insulin May Be the Canary in the Coal Mine (4.19.19)
A subcommittee of the House Energy and Commerce Committee heard testimony earlier this month on the human toll of rising insulin costs as a case study to better understand the impact on patients on prescription pricing overall. According to Rep. Brett Guthrie (R-KY 2nd District), “The prescription drug supply chain is complex, and it lacks transparency. There is limited public information around drug prices due to a lack of transparency around rebates and other price concessions.” The Kaiser Family Foundation recently reported that total Medicare Part D spending on insulin increased by 840% between 2007 and 2017, with no generics available and Eli Lilly, Novo Nordisk, and Sanofi dominating the market. In Minnesota, Attorney General Lori Swanson sued the three. While common wisdom (and massive advertising dollars spent by the Big Pharma lobby) justify high prices as attributable to the cost of R&D, rising insulin costs—which have been averaging 10 percent annually—may go a long way toward putting that argument to bed.
Despite recent announcements that manufacturers would cut the cost of insulin, industry watchers are skeptical it will make a difference. Meanwhile, the world is watching, and pharmacists and physicians on the front line have to deal with patient non-adherence—or worse—or come up with ingenious end-runs, like this Oregon pharmacy did, to help keep their patients healthy.
Here are a few other stories that might be of interest:
- The FDA has recently approved a combination COPD therapy designed for AstraZeneca’s Pressair inhaler. The agency has also approved a new oral therapy for multiple sclerosis.
- Gear up for some pushback? Some scientists are saying that probiotics may damage immune response. (It was a small study.)
- Keep the Tamiflu and OTC meds around. Flu viruses continue to circulate in a season that is a bit milder–but longer—than average.
- Confidence, creativity, and training: Community pharmacies are still the go-to for chronic disease care.
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