Perspectives: Drugmakers Hike Prices Because They Can. The How Gets A Little More Complicated.

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Read recent commentaries about drug-cost issues.

Bloomberg: Games Drugmakers Play
One of my goals when I joined Bloomberg View a month ago was to dive into the contentious subject of drug pricing. I’d like to explain to readers why the pharmaceutical companies have been raising prices so relentlessly these past half-dozen years, even as the practice has become a huge issue on Capitol Hill and in the country. My friend Barry Werth, who has written two fine books about the biotech company Vertex, says the answer is simple: “Because they can.” But the details of how they do it can be murky, complicated — and sometimes underhanded. (Joe Nocera, 2/13)

The Washington Post: Why People Should Be Able To Buy Drugs Approved In Other Countries
For years, muscular dystrophy patients in the United States have been purchasing the drug deflazacort — used to stabilize muscle strength and keep patients mobile for a period of time — from companies in the United Kingdom at a manageable price of $1,600 a year. But because an American company just got approval from the Food and Drug Administration to sell the drug in the United States, the price of the drug will soar to a staggering $89,000 annually, the Wall Street Journal reported last week. (Robert Gebelhoff, 2/14)

The Wall Street Journal: Don’t Ignore Politicians’ Ire Over Orphan Drugs
The latest drug-pricing drama has pushed the debate in a new direction. It would be a mistake for biotech shareholders to dismiss the uproar as the same old story. Marathon Pharmaceuticals’ decision to list the old steroid deflazacort at an $89,000 annual price to treat Duchenne muscular dystrophy, and the resulting outcry, has had an immediate impact on the company. Marathon said Monday that it plans to delay the drug’s U.S. launch, scheduled for next month, after politicians in Washington expressed anger over the company’s plans. (Charley Grant, 2/14)

Los Angeles Times: Trump Needs To Be Careful In Deregulating The Drug Industry
In a recent meeting with pharmaceutical-industry bigwigs, President Trump declared that “we’re going to be cutting regulations at a level that nobody’s ever seen before.” He also said that “we’re going to have tremendous protection for the people.”It’s hard to see how he can do both. (David Lazarus, 2/10)

Fayette Tribune: President Trump Misunderstands What Government Drug Price Negotiations Entail
President Donald Trump recently pledged to let federal officials negotiate the prices of drugs covered under Medicare. He claims this will save taxpayers billions of dollars. Nobody doubts that Trump and his team are shrewd negotiators. But the sorts of “negotiations” that Trump refers to have nothing in common with haggling over a real estate deal. Instead, the action that Trump has proposed — repealing the non-interference clause, originally drafted by Democratic Senators Ted Kennedy and Tom Daschle — would result in Medicare drug prices going up and patient choice going down. (Peter J. Pitts, 2/10)

North Jersey: Overdose Rescue Drug Overpriced
There’s no dispute opioid addiction is an epidemic.More than 183,000 people have died from opioid overdoses since 1999, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In New Jersey, Gov. Chris Christie and legislators have responded with proposals to expand treatment for addicts and to limit the amount of drugs physicians can prescribe. Other states are following suit. Unfortunately, not all responses are as constructive. (2/13)

Scranton Times-Tribune: End Gouging For Antidote
The national opioid epidemic now claims more lives each day than guns or car crashes — about 91 a day nationwide, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. As appalling as that is, the toll would be far worse but for naloxone, a drug approved in 1971 that stops the respiratory arrest produced by opioid overdoses. Public health agencies have credited the drug with saving many thousands of people who might otherwise have died due to heroin or prescription opioid overdoses. (2/14)

Stat: The Creative Science Of Coining Drug Names
Cialis, Eliquis, Jevtana, Xgeva. These drug names may sound silly, but the process of creating and testing them is anything but. With more than 30,000 proprietary drugs in the United States alone, coming up with a unique brand name is no easy task. And while these names may seem like they were created by over-caffeinated Scrabble players, they are usually the result of intense focus by creative name development professionals coupled with clear-eyed research designed to enhance the prospects of Food and Drug Administration approval. (Mike Pile, 2/8)

Bloomberg: Teva Tries Out ‘Alternative Guidance’
Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd. gave investors a nice surprise on its fourth-quarter earnings call Monday by maintaining its 2017 revenue and earnings guidance. Teva shares jumped about 4 percent on the news. Many investors had assumed Teva’s guidance, already cut in January, would have to come down again after a U.S. court knocked out patents on its best-selling drug Copaxone, making generic competition much more likely. The company’s CEO stepped down shortly afterwards. (Max Nisen, 2/13)

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