ShareFacebook Twitter

Sign In | Register.


Untitled Document

Facebook Twittter


This Week in Health Care Reform - August 19th, 2016

A new study raises the alarm on cholesterol drug prices; orphan drugs find themselves in the spotlight; and, the health insurance tax continues to draw Congressional ire.

Week in Review

PCSK9 Pricing: Earlier this week, a new economic analysis was released highlighting the persistent turbulence inflicted upon our health care system by unsustainably high drug prices.  The analysis, published by The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), examines the cost-effectiveness of two new cholesterol-lowering drugs, known as PCSK9 inhibitors, both approved by the FDA last year.  The study was circumscribed by two major assumptions: The average annual cost of both drugs ($14,350) and the total number of patients who qualified for treatment (9 million Americans).  Under those parameters, the study’s authors projected an additional $120 billion in annual health care costs.  Lest we run the risk of finding ourselves inured to the warnings of exorbitantly-priced medications (see: Sovaldi), it’s worth noting that the dire predictions put forth by the JAMA analysis concern new drugs that are meant to be taken for the rest of a patient’s life.  As such, based on their analysis, the authors concluded that treating the entire eligible population with the new PCSK9 inhibitors was not a cost-effective proposition.
Orphan Drugs: As covered last week, the class of medicines known as “orphan drugs” has quietly grown into a booming business.  Initially targeted at rare diseases, however, these drugs are increasingly being used to treat common, non-orphan conditions.  Unsurprisingly, as a new study indicates, that use has likely influenced price increases for these drugs, jeopardizing the affordability of – and access to – these important, life-saving medications for patients suffering from the rare diseases and conditions that these drugs were initially intended to treat.  Compiled by AHIP, the analysis looked at 46 orphan drugs available from 2012 to 2014.  Over the observed period, the average price increase for the sample was 26 percent.  However, the greatest price increase (37 percent) was seen for those orphan drugs prescribed primarily for non-orphan uses, more than three times the increase (12 percent) seen for the same class of drugs used almost exclusively for their intended purpose.  Of the 46 drugs in the study, nearly half of their usage (47 percent) was for non-orphan diseases.  The observed correlation between price increases for orphan drugs being prescribed for non-orphan use is cause for growing concern, especially when you consider that orphan drugs account for nearly half of all the drugs approved by the FDA last year (19 of 41).
Not a HIT:
Also highlighted last week, how efforts to repeal the harmful health insurance tax (HIT) continue to draw support from stakeholders across the health care spectrum.  Recently, this included California Congressman, Ami Bera (D), who added his voice to the growing chorus of lawmakers standing up on behalf of their constituents, many of whom find themselves squarely in the HIT’s crosshairs.  Meeting with local business leaders in his community earlier this month, Rep. Bera spoke of his efforts, along with those of his Congressional colleagues, to continue to protect small businesses, working families, and seniors from the HIT’s additional $130 billion in costs.
Return to archives...



We encourage you to stay involved as implementation efforts surrounding health care reform progress.  Visit the Health Action Network and be sure to let us know what's on your mind.


Looking Ahead

New polling highlights what issues voters most want to hear about from the candidates in the upcoming Presidential debates.

You can keep up with the latest by following the Health Action Network on Twitter and by liking us on Facebook.