Tagged Pharmaceuticals

Must-Reads Of The Week From Brianna Labuskes

Happy Friday! This week was so busy that I am going to take the unprecedented step and highly recommend you check out our Morning Briefings for the past few days. So many compelling, interesting stories didn’t make the cut for the Breeze, but they’re worth reading.

On to what you may have missed!

Well, this one you probably didn’t miss unless you were in the middle of the woods sans cellphone service: Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey signed legislation that effectively bans all abortions and criminalizes the procedure. The uproar that followed was immediate and ferocious — especially from 2020 Democrats who all but tripped over each other to denounce it as “shameless” and “outrageous” — but is the bill actually the threat to Roe v. Wade that it so dearly wants to be?

The measure is destined for the courts, certainly, but that doesn’t mean it will make it to SCOTUS. One likely outcome: The justices can simply refuse to take it up, leaving in place the lower courts’ decision (which will probably be that the law is unconstitutional). Chief Justice John Roberts is known for favoring incrementalism over sweeping decisions that would overturn nearly 50 years of precedent on a hot-button social issue.

But you need only four votes to get a case on the docket, which has court-watchers eyeing newbie Justice Brett Kavanaugh. His appointment helped galvanize the anti-abortion movement in the first place, but in the past he’s talked seriously about needing a compelling reason to overturn precedent. So far, he has disagreed with the hard conservatives more than people expected. So, the future for Alabama’s law remains uncertain.

What seems more likely is that the high court will instead look to less extreme, but still restrictive state laws (such as bills dictating the disposal of fetal remains and an 18-hour waiting period after state-mandated ultrasound examinations) that are heading toward them even as we speak.

No matter how it plays out, you can pretty much guarantee this is going to be a Big Deal on the campaign trail.

The New York Times: Alabama Aims Squarely at Roe, but the Supreme Court May Prefer Glancing Blows

The Associated Press: Alabama Law Moves Abortion to the Center of 2020 Campaign

The Wall Street Journal: States’ Abortion Curbs Put Supreme Court to the Test

A smattering of the other (dozens and dozens) of thoughtful stories from the past few days:

• What is it like living in a liberal city in the Deep South during times like this?

The New York Times: Abortion and the Future of the New South

• Missouri wants in on the action this week.

KCUR: How Missouri’s Senate Passed a Restrictive Abortion Bill Overnight

• A vote in deep-blue (and very Catholic) Rhode Island was overshadowed by Alabama’s news, but it highlights how nuanced and complicated the issue can be.

Boston Globe: In Rhode Island, Vote on Abortion-Rights Bill Reveals a Complicated State

• A lot of Senate Republicans are trying their best to nope out of this conversation, like “no thank you, not touching that with a 10-foot pole.”

The Hill: Senate Republicans Running Away From Alabama Abortion Law

• And a really handy look at what’s going on at the state level.

The Washington Post: The Widening Gap in Abortion Laws in This Country


House Democrats took advantage of their newfound power by tying a vote on reining in high drug prices to legislation shoring up the health law. The bill is destined to die, of course, but the move forced their Republican colleagues to go on record voting against something that voters care very, very deeply about.

The New York Times: House Passes Legislation Aiming to Shore Up Health Law and Lower Drug Costs

They also foreshadowed a potential subpoena with letters to Attorney General William Barr. Five powerful committee chairmen said that they’ve been asking since April 8 for documents connected to the Justice Department’s decision to stop defending the health law but haven’t received a sufficient response. They’re giving DOJ two more weeks before they consider “alternative means of obtaining compliance.”

Politico: Dems Tee Up New Document Fight With DOJ Over Obamacare

Meanwhile, a new Sunlight Foundation report found that the Trump administration has been systematically altering and eliminating information on the health law that’s on government websites.

Wired: The Trump Admin Is Scrubbing Obamacare From Government Sites


Surprise medical billing is truly the darling of Capitol Hill recently with all the attention it’s getting. Multiple variations of bipartisan duos and groups are working on introducing legislation to combat the issue. The most recent bill unveiled would protect patients from the surprise costs, and let an outside arbitrator settle any disputes between hospitals and insurers. Other proposals have instead favored a rate-setting method to solve payment issues.

The Hill: Bipartisan Senators Unveil Measure to End Surprise Medical Bills

The Hill: Dem House Chairman, Top Republican Release Measure to End Surprise Medical Bills


Attorneys general from 44 states have filed suit against pharma companies over allegations that “the generic drug industry perpetrated a multibillion-dollar fraud on the American people.” The lawsuit implicates 20 pharma firms following an investigation into allegations that the companies sought not only to maintain their “fair share” of the generic drug market through agreements with one another but also to “significantly raise prices on as many drugs as possible.”

The Associated Press: States Bring Price Fixing Suit Against Generic Drug Makers


Washington state took a big step this week in approving the creation of a public option — which would essentially look like a state-sponsored health plan. But now comes the hard part: making it work.

And don’t call it a game changer quite yet, experts say. Even sponsors of the legislation acknowledge the state plans may save consumers only 5-10% on their premiums. Still, the rollout will likely be watched closely as the progressive universal health care push grows stronger.

Politico: 5 Key Questions About the Country’s First Public Option

NPR: Washington State to Create ‘Public Option’ Health Care Plans

(If you feel like you need a refresher on all these terms — join the crowd, amiright? this one from NYT’s Margot Sanger-Katz is great.)


Rural hospitals, which sometimes fight literally hour by hour to afford to stay open, are in a crisis in this country, as evidenced by two amazing pieces this week on what happens to a town when one dies.

“If we aren’t open, where do these people go?” asked one hospital worker in The Washington Post’s coverage.

“They’ll go to the cemetery,” another employee answered. “If we’re not here, these people don’t have time. They’ll die along with this hospital.”

The Washington Post: ‘Who’s Going to Take Care of These People?’

Kaiser Health News: Dealing With Hospital Closure, Pioneer Kansas Town Asks: What Comes Next?

But I found a flicker of hope in a lovely story about how a one-room clinic in North Carolina just marked its 100th year.

North Carolina Health News: One Hundred Years in a Rural Clinic


Think this measles outbreak is big? (It is, by the way!) How about the one in 1990, which had more than 27,000 cases? In the past few months, I’ve read and written about the record 963 cases from 1994 more times than you can count but had no idea that just four years earlier it was that much higher. If you’re as intrigued as I was about how that changed, dive into NPR’s historical look at what exactly was going on at the time, and how public officials made so much progress so quickly.

NPR: How a Measles Outbreak Was Halted in the 1990s


In the miscellaneous file for the week:

• There’s a pretty serious debate going on right now about fair distribution of donated livers. A new rule that went into effect this week and then was immediately blocked by a judge would give the organ to the sickest patient within 500 nautical miles. But advocates in the Midwest and South say that’s unfair.

The Washington Post: Liver Transplant Rules Spark Open Conflict Among Transplant Centers

• The U.S. birth rate has fallen again to the lowest in three decades. Some say that means the sky is falling; others are unconcerned.

The Associated Press: US Births Lowest in 3 Decades Despite Improving Economy

• Despite there being thousands of children in the country with a terminal diagnosis, only three hospice facilities in the U.S. are designed specifically for them.

The New York Times: Where Should a Child Die? Hospice Homes Help Families With the Unimaginable

• Can we learn about trauma from an island of monkeys that was devastated by Hurricane Maria?

The New York Times: Primal Fear: Can Monkeys Help Unlock the Secrets of Trauma?

• Many of our gun safety discussions focus on buying the weapons, but teaching about proper storage can make a bigger difference than you’d necessarily expect.

The New York Times: The Potentially Lifesaving Difference in How a Gun Is Stored


Whew! You made it both through this hefty Breeze and the week itself. Take it easy this weekend as a reward!

Gilead CEO Defends High Price Of HIV Prevention Drug As Necessary For Research, But Lawmakers Aren’t Buying It

“This treatment was developed as a result of investment made by the American taxpayers,” said House Oversight Committee Chairman Elijah E. Cummings (D-Md.). “The problem is that Gilead, the company that now sells the drug, charges astronomical prices.” Gilead charged $800 a month for the drug when it was introduced in 2004. The drug now costs nearly $2,000 a month.

Critical Antibiotics To Be First Products Supplied By Nonprofit Drugmaking Venture Established By Hospital Coalition

Civica Rx and other nontraditional drug suppliers entering the market say they are seeking to fix a dysfunctional system that puts patients at risk and adds to fast-rising pharmaceutical spending. “It’s really a good idea to shore up our supply of these products. Without these, the alternatives are pretty grim,” said the University of Utah’s Erin Fox.

A Biotech Executive With Big Ideas Aims To Increase Healthspan Not Necessarily Lifespan

Nathaniel “Ned” David talks about aging and finding ways to improve the process as we are living longer than ever before. In other pharmaceutical news, New Jersey eases some restrictions around gifts and payments for drugmakers and a look at which states are part of a broader coalition that is suing pharma companies over generic drug prices.

44 States Sue Pharma Companies Over Alleged Conspiracy To Inflate Generic Drug Prices By As Much As 1,000%

In court documents, the state prosecutors lay out a brazen price-fixing scheme involving more than a dozen generic drug companies, including Teva, Pfizer, Novartis and Mylan. A key element of the scheme was an agreement among competitors to cooperate on pricing so each company could maintain a “fair share” of the generic drug markets, the complaint alleges.

Price Check On Drug Ads: Would Revealing Costs Help Patients Control Spending?

[Editor’s note: The Trump administration on May 8 finalized its rule requiring drugmakers to include price information in television ads for any products that cost $35 or more a month or spanning a typical course of therapy. The move comes amid growing federal and state interest in price transparency, although whether it will result in lower prices is uncertain. Here’s a story originally published on June 6, 2018 that explores some of the issues.]

President Donald Trump wants to control spending on drugs. One of his big ideas: include prices in advertisements, just like warnings about side effects.

That’s not as simple as it sounds.

Apart from legal questions about whether the Food and Drug Administration has the authority to require pricing in ads, other uncertainties arise.

For example, what is the right number to use?

There is a dizzying array of ways to look at drug prices, including average wholesale and average sales prices.

And dosage factors in. Would the price be pegged to a monthly cost? A per-dose cost? Or, even more inscrutable, a “unit cost,” which may not equal a single dose?

A final complication: The prices likely would not be what most consumers actually pay.

Most patients with insurance typically shell out either a flat-dollar copayment or a percentage of the drug’s cost. Some patients get coupons that can reduce their cost to zero.

An FDA working group is currently studying these issues.

Still, we wondered how drug prices pinned to ads might look, hypothetically.

We picked the top 10 most-advertised drugs by spending, courtesy of a list from Kantar Media, which advises clients on advertising and tracks spending, and showed how much each drug company spent last year on those ads. Another consulting group, Connecture, then figured the typical monthly costs, based on average wholesale prices. Those costs are based on typical dosages.

Here’s what we found:

Drug: Humira
Company: AbbVie
Monthly cost: $5,846.44
Typical regimen: 40 mg every other week by injection
2017 advertising: $429 million
Treats: Rheumatoid arthritis, chronic plaque psoriasis, Crohn’s disease

Drug: Lyrica
Company: Pfizer
Monthly cost: $1,070.15
Typical regimen: 300 mg per day in pill form
2017 advertising: $350 million
Treats: Fibromyalgia, diabetic nerve pain, spinal cord injury nerve pain and pain after shingles

Drug: Xeljanz
Company: Pfizer
Monthly cost: $4,914.77
Typical regimen: 5 mg twice daily in pill form
2017 advertising: $273 million
Treats: Rheumatoid arthritis, psoriatic arthritis

Drug: Eliquis
Company: Bristol-Myers Squibb
Monthly cost: $502.84
Typical regimen: 5 mg twice daily in pill form
2017 advertising: $227 million
Treats: Prevention of stroke and blood clots

Drug: Keytruda
Company: Merck
Monthly cost: $8,369.36
Typical regimen: 200 mg every three weeks by infusion
2017 advertising: $209 million
Treats: Melanoma, non-small cell lung cancer and other cancers

Drug: Taltz
Company: Eli Lilly
Monthly cost: $6,193.92
Typical regimen: 80 mg every four weeks by injection
2017 advertising: $207 million
Treats: Plaque psoriasis, active psoriatic arthritis

Drug: Chantix
Company: Pfizer
Monthly cost: $515.89
Typical regimen: 1 mg twice daily in pill form
2017 advertising: $207 million
Treats: Aid in smoking cessation

Drug: Trulicity
Company: Eli Lilly
Monthly cost: $876.24
Typical regimen: 0.75 mg once weekly by injection
2017 advertising: $195 million
Treats: Type 2 diabetes

Drug: Cosentyx
Company: Novartis
Monthly cost: $11,309.72
Typical regimen: 300 mg every four weeks by injection
2017 advertising: $174 million
Treats: Plaque psoriasis, psoriatic arthritis, ankylosing spondylitis

Drug: Entresto
Company: Novartis
Monthly cost: $555.91
Typical regimen: 97 mg/103 mg twice daily in pill form
2017 advertising: $159 million
Treats: Chronic heart failure
Sources: Kantar Media, Connecture

Graphic presentation by producer Lydia Zuraw.


KHN’s coverage of prescription drug development, costs and pricing is supported in part by the Laura and John Arnold Foundation.

Addiction Medicine Mostly Prescribed To Whites, Even As Opioid Deaths Rose Among Blacks

White drug users addicted to heroin, fentanyl and other opioids have had near-exclusive access to buprenorphine, a drug that curbs the craving for opioids and reduces the chance of a fatal overdose. That’s according to a study out Wednesday from the University of Michigan. It appears in JAMA Psychiatry.

Researchers reviewed two national surveys of physician-reported prescriptions. From 2012 to 2015, as overdose deaths surged in many states so did the number of visits during which a doctor or nurse practitioner prescribed buprenorphine, often referred to by the brand name Suboxone. The researchers assessed 13.4 million medical encounters involving the drug but found no increase in prescriptions written for African Americans.

“White populations are almost 35 times as likely to have a buprenorphine-related visit than black Americans,” said Dr. Pooja Lagisetty, an assistant professor of medicine at the University of Michigan Medical School and the study’s lead author.

The dominant use of buprenorphine to treat whites occurred while opioid overdose deaths were rising faster for blacks than for whites.

“This epidemic over the last few years has been framed by many as largely a white epidemic, but we know now that’s not true,” Lagisetty said.

What is true, Lagisetty added, is that most of the white patients either paid cash (40%) or relied on private insurance (35%) to fund their buprenorphine treatment. The fact that just 25% of the visits were paid for through Medicaid and Medicare “does highlight that many of these visits could be very costly for persons of low income,” Lagisetty said.

Doctors and nurse practitioners can demand cash payments because there’s a shortage of clinicians who can prescribe buprenorphine, according to Dr. Andrew Kolodny, co-director of Opioid Policy Research at Brandeis University’s Heller School for Social Policy and Management. Only about 5% of physicians have taken the special training required to prescribe buprenorphine.

“The few that are doing it are really able to name their price, and that’s what we’re seeing here and that’s the reason why individuals with more resources — who are more likely to be white — are more likely to access treatment with buprenorphine,” said Kolodny, who was not involved in the study.

Kolodny wants the federal government to eliminate the required special training for buprenorphine and a related cap on the number of patients a doctor can manage on the drug.

Some physicians who’ve studied racial disparities in addiction treatment say the root causes date to 2000, when buprenorphine was approved. At that time, proponents argued that buprenorphine was needed to help treat suburban youth, according to Dr. Helena Hansen at New York University. Those young patients didn’t see themselves as addicted to heroin in the same way as hard-core urban heroin users who went to methadone clinics for treatment.

“Buprenorphine was introduced as private-office treatment, for a private market with the means to pay,” said Hansen, an associate professor of psychiatry and anthropology. “So the unequal dissemination of buprenorphine for opioid dependence is not accidental.”

Hansen added that the fix must include universal access to treatment in a primary care setting, an end to the criminalization of opioid dependence (which puts more blacks in prison for drug use than whites) and more federal funding to expand access to buprenorphine for all patients.

Several leaders in the fight to reduce opioid overdose deaths say the study results are disturbing.

“It really demands for us to be looking at equitable treatment for addiction for African Americans as we do for white Americans,” said Michael Botticelli, director of the Grayken Center for Addiction at Boston Medical Center and the former director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy.

Botticelli identified key issues that may contribute to the racial treatment gap and deserve further investigation. For example, he wants to know if Medicaid reimbursement rates are simply too low to entice more doctors to work with low-income patients, or if there are too few inner-city doctors prescribing buprenorphine or if African Americans themselves are somehow reluctant to seek this form of treatment.

Dr. Nora Volkow, director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse at the National Institutes of Health, called the findings surprising and disturbing. Surprising because the disparity is so large, and disturbing because her agency has prioritized educating doctors about the value of prescribing buprenorphine.

Volkow also expressed disappointment that federal parity laws, which are supposed to guarantee equal access to all types of medications, don’t seem to be working for buprenorphine.

“We need to ensure that we have capacity to provide these treatments,” Volkow said, “because if you say you have to pay for them, but there are no services that can provide the treatments, then the issue of paying for them is secondary.”

Volkow has noted that fewer than half of Americans with an opioid use disorder have access to buprenorphine or two other medications used to treat opioid addiction: methadone and naltrexone. Volkow said she’s glad that the use of buprenorphine is on the rise, but the U.S. needs to understand why this lifesaving treatment isn’t benefiting all patients who need it.

This story is part of a partnership that includes WBURNPR and Kaiser Health News.

The Money And Politics Of Prescription Drugs: What You Need To Know

If there’s one area of health care where Republicans and Democrats might strike a deal, it’s prescription drugs.

President Donald Trump has floated a plan to cut drug prices. Democratic and Republican ideas abound in Congress, where lawmakers have put more than 40 bills on the table. In 2018, 39 states passed 94 laws targeting pricing and costs. Florida’s House recently approved a move backed by the state’s Republican governor to allow imports from Canada. So far, Vermont is the only state to take that step.

Why do prescription drugs draw so much attention? Because millions of Americans rely on them, and 8 out of 10 say the cost is “unreasonable.”

America spends about $460 billion a year on these drugs, roughly as much as the combined revenues of the top three car makers.

That spending flows mainly in two ways: retail drugs sold at pharmacies, and drugs provided by doctors and other clinicians at hospitals, outpatient clinics and long-term care centers. Retail drugs account for about 10% of all health care spending. The doctor-administered drugs add about another 6% to 7%.

Tracking the money challenges the savviest of analysts. Between the drugmakers and the patients lie an array of middlemen, who end up masking the true prices through discounts to one another and rebates to patients.

Here are a few benchmarks to help you navigate the realm of prescription drugs.

Out-Of-Pocket Costs

With all the focus on affordability, it’s worth noting that about a third of all retail prescriptions come at no cost to the patient. Another half have an out-of-pocket cost of under $10. In recent years, the average out-of-pocket cost has fallen from about $10 to a bit over $8.

There are several reasons, including company rebates, better drug cost protections through the Affordable Care Act, and greater use of generic drugs, which are cheaper than brand-name drugs protected by patent.

But just because the pressure has eased on average doesn’t mean the financial burden isn’t intense for the relative few. A small number of people and prescriptions accounted for a huge share of the estimated total out-of-pocket costs of $57.8 billion in 2017.

The Federal Bill Grows

Even if most individuals are cushioned from rising drug prices, taxpayers, through the federal government, are not. Spending skyrocketed after the Medicare Part D prescription drug benefit took effect in 2006 and has continued to rise rapidly since.

U.S. Drug Prices Are Higher

One reason states such as Florida are interested in importing drugs from Canada is many drugs are cheaper there. The Commonwealth Fund, a New York-based health policy group, compared a basket of common drugs (of the retail sort) in the United States and several other countries. Using the American cost as a benchmark of 100, it calculated the cost in Canada, the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Switzerland and Australia.

Germany was the closest match to the American price tag, but Canada, the U.K. and Australia were all about half the cost.

Other studies reached the same general result. The U.S. Health and Human Services Department looked at the top 27 Part B drugs (physician-administered drugs) and found that for 20 prices were higher in the United States. A Canadian-American research team looked at spending on primary care drugs in America and 10 other nations, including all of the ones in the Commonwealth study. It found U.S. spending was about twice as high as the average elsewhere.

Broadly, the United States spends more on drugs because prices for many drugs are higher, and patients, usually on the advice of a doctor, take newer, high-cost drugs.

Follow The Money

One of the reasons the prescription drug market poses a challenge to lawmakers is because it has many moving parts. On the payer side, there are patients, the government and employers. On the receiving end are drugmakers, wholesalers, health care plans, pharmacies and pharmacy benefit managers, which are firms that negotiate prices on behalf of payers.

The money moves around a lot, but policy analyst Allan Coukell at the Pew Charitable Trusts modeled the flow among all the players to estimate how much money ended up with each one. For 2016, the drugmakers were the top gainers, with $204 billion (on the retail side), but the pharmacies also did well with about a quarter of the total.

Lobbying

Ever since the passage of the Medicare Part D prescription drug benefit, pharmaceutical companies have invested heavily in lobbying. There was a spike in 2009 as Congress debated the Affordable Care Act, but after a short dip, spending rose again and now stands at $281 million, about where it was nearly a decade ago.

No industry group spends more on lobbying — by a long shot. The insurance industry came in a distant second at $158 million on lobbying last year.

The drug industry can’t ignore the big proposals in Washington that could change the landscape, said Georgetown University researcher Jack Hoadley.

Both Democrats and Republicans, including the White House, have bills to peg American prices to prices in Japan and Europe.

There are bills to let the government negotiate directly with drug companies to reduce prices in the Medicare program. Among the public, that approach enjoys broad bipartisan support, with 80% of Republicans and 90% of Democrats in favor.

“The fact that the administration, congressional Republicans and Democrats are all talking about drug prices is putting all stakeholders on edge,” Hoadley said.

Drug Industry Patents Go Under Senate Judiciary Committee’s Microscope

Congress isn’t making much headway in finding a solution to the problem of soaring prescription drug prices, but lawmakers from both parties are tinkering on the edges with legislation that aims to increase competition among drugmakers.

A comprehensive piece of drug-pricing legislation is a high priority for Senate Finance Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley, (R-Iowa) and Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.). And it could be introduced by mid-June, according to congressional staff.

But while that is hashed out, a slate of options to reform drug patents is working its way through the Senate Judiciary Committee, which had a hearing Tuesday featuring academics, patient advocates and a representative from the pharmaceutical industry. Their mission: to increase competition without decreasing innovation in the industry.

“I think we’re dangerously close to building a bipartisanship consensus around change,” Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), said during the hearing.

The four proposed bills share a common goal: avoiding some of the thorny issues around drug pricing, like whether the government will set drug prices or negotiate with manufacturers on what federal programs will pay. Instead, the patent reform proposals get at the ways branded drug manufacturers use patents, and the legal monopolies that are granted with patents, to keep lower-priced generic competitors from reaching patients.

“A package of patent reforms are important because they fix systemic problems that allow prices to go up and keep them high,” testified David Mitchell, the president of Patients for Affordable Drugs, a Washington, D.C.-based advocacy group focused on lowering prescription drug prices.

Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) offered specific examples of drugs that have benefited from  system issues, including Humira, an expensive drug for arthritis and psoriasis that is protected by 136 patents.

That’s called a “patent thicket,” because it prevents a generic alternative from entering the market for more years — in this case, until 2023 for a drug first approved for use in the United States in 2002. “Is there anyone on the panel who’d like to defend the status quo?” he asked.

“There is no way a biosimilar can deal with a hundred patents,” testified Michael Carrier, a professor at Rutgers Law School. “This is an abuse of the system.”

Among the proposed bills, the Stop STALLING (“Stop Significant and Time-wasting Abuse Limiting Legitimate Innovation of New Generics”) Act, is the bipartisan brainchild of Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) and Grassley. The bill is supposed to put a stop to “sham” citizen petitions to the FDA. Critics say these petitions are often introduced by drugmakers under the guise of patient advocacy to slow FDA approval of new generic medicines. “Nearly every one of these citizen petitions is brought by a brand company. None are filed by individuals. I love the legislation. I would go even stronger,” Carrier said.

Grassley is also the lead sponsor on the bipartisan Prescription Pricing for the People Act of 2019. It directs the Federal Trade Commission to investigate mergers of pharmacy benefit managers, the middlemen that negotiate between drugmakers and health plans.

Klobuchar and Grassley teamed up again on another measure, the Preserve Access to Affordable Generics and Biosimilars Act, which they  say would end “anti-competitive behavior” — specifically, deals struck between branded companies and generic companies to keep a generic, or a biosimilar, off the market. Klobuchar,  a Democratic presidential candidate, has frequently discussed her opposition to this practice on the campaign trail.

James Stansel — the executive vice president and general counsel of the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, a drug industry trade group, and the lone voice of the pharmaceutical industry on the panel — cautioned against moving too aggressively on this point. “We want to make sure we don’t do something that’s anti-competitive in the hopes it would be pro-competitive,” he said.

There’s also the CREATES (“Creating and Restoring Equal Access to Equivalent Samples”) Act, introduced by Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) with 31 bipartisan co-sponsors and endorsed by nearly every witness on Tuesday’s panel. It’s supposed to crack down on branded companies that refuse to sell samples of their drugs to generic companies, a necessary step to increasing the number of generics on the market.

Versions of all four of those bills have also been introduced in the House and advanced out of the House Judiciary Committee.

“The American people are being played for chumps,” said Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.). “Just chumps. And it’s got to stop.”

Parents Of Children With Rare Genetic Disorder See Hope In Drug Trial, But Others See Litany Of Red Flags

Ovid Therapeutics’ drug for Angelman syndrome–a rare cognitive disease that currently has no treatment–saw a glimmer of success in a very small trial. The drug had beaten the placebo on only one metric and failed on a full 16 others, including measures of quality of life and ability to sleep. To investors, the ostensibly positive data looked cherry-picked. In other news at the convergence of pharma and public health: Alzheimer’s, dengue fever, superbugs, statins and more.