Drugmakers argue that they’ve pumped millions into research and so they can charge a lot more for drugs that used to be available cheaply. But experts find flaws in their logic. In other pharmaceutical news: the price of insulin and CVS’ fourth-quarter profits.
Stat: After A New Version Of An Old Drug Gets Orphan Status, The Price Skyrockets
For years, hospitals and clinics have used an injectable medicine called dehydrated alcohol to treat such maladies as chronic pain or to prevent infections in patients who must receive nutrients intravenously. Yet after a small company won a monopoly to sell its version for use with a specific heart procedure, the cost for a pack of 10 vials is about to spike from about $1,300 to nearly $10,000. Not surprisingly, the sudden jump in price has outraged medical facilities, which now expect to pay untold millions of dollars more each year for a medication that has been available for decades. (Silverman, 2/12)
Stat: Insulin Makers Object To FDA Plan For Speeding Arrival Of Biosimilar Insulins
Amid growing rancor over the cost of insulin, two of the largest manufacturers are objecting to a Food and Drug Administration proposal designed to make it easier for other companies to develop lower-cost alternatives and, presumably, get these products to patients sooner. And their protests may open up the companies to still more criticism over their pricing. At issue is a draft guidance the agency issued last November to eliminate the need for immunogenicity studies for biosimilar versions of insulin. Such studies are used to determine whether an immune response occurs in the body, but there has been a growing belief they are unnecessary. The European Medicines Agency, for instance, dispensed with such studies for biosimilar insulin in 2015. (Silverman, 2/12)
The CT Mirror: Insulin Bill Would Cap Monthly Supplies Of Drug At $50
Lawmakers who want to tackle the high cost of prescription drugs in a short legislative session will roll out a bill Thursday that caps the monthly cost of insulin at $50. The measure is more aggressive than similar efforts in Illinois and Colorado, which last year championed legislation capping insulin costs for users at $100 per month. (Carlesso, 2/13)
The Associated Press: CVS Health Swings To 4Q Profit, Lays Out Leadership Changes
CVS Health swung to a fourth-quarter profit and is starting the new year with a management shakeup for its largest business. The company will replace Derica Rice with Dr. Alan Lotvin as the leader of its pharmacy benefit management segment. CVS Health also named former Concerto Healthcare executive Alec Cunningham to lead its Aetna insurance business as it focuses more on government programs like Medicare Advantage. (2/12)
The Wall Street Journal: CVS Swings To Profit, Forecasts 2020 Results In Line With Estimates
The company also said that the head of its pharmacy-benefits unit, Derica Rice, will leave. His exit comes after the departure earlier this year of Kevin Hourican, the leader of the pharmacy operations, who left to take a CEO job elsewhere. CVS said Alan Lotvin, currently an executive vice president, will take over the PBM. The company previously said that chief operating officer Jonathan Roberts would temporarily lead the pharmacy unit. (Wilde Mathews and Sebastian, 2/12)
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