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Prescription Drug Prices

  • Trump's Big Promises on Drug Costs Followed by Modest Steps Associated Press by Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar and Matthew Perrone — President Donald Trump makes big promises to reduce prescription drug costs, but his administration is gravitating to relatively modest steps such as letting Medicare patients share in manufacturer rebates. Those ideas would represent tangible change and they have a realistic chance of being enacted. But it’s not like calling for Medicare to negotiate drug prices. Skeptics say the overall approach is underwhelming, and Trump risks being seen as an ally of the powerful pharmaceutical industry, not its disrupter.  The White House Council of Economic Advisers has released a 30-page strategy for reducing drug costs, and it calls current policies “neither wise nor just.” The plan, outlined before Trump releases his new budget proposal Monday, focuses mainly on Medicare and Medicaid changes, along with ideas for speeding drug approvals and fostering competition.

  • Coalition of 44 Groups Calls for Passage of Drug Pricing Bill  The Hill by Peter Sullivan — A coalition of 44 groups is calling on Congress to pass a measure aimed at fighting high drug prices that has gained support from across the political spectrum. The letter is signed by groups that are often directly opposed to each other, such as the conservative group FreedomWorks and the liberal group Families USA. The bill, called the Creates Act, has bipartisan co-sponsors and is designed to increase competition and bring prices down by preventing branded drug companies from using delay tactics to prevent generic competitors from getting onto the market. It is a rare anti-drug pricing measure that has some momentum in Congress, and it could be included as a way to help pay for a coming budget deal.

  • Express Scripts Plans See Lower Gains in Prescription Drug Spending CNBC  by Bertha Coombs — Prescription drug prices may still be high, but Express Scripts says the commercial insurance plans it works with saw the lowest increase in drug spending last year in nearly a quarter of a century. For private employer and individual health plans, total drug spending rose 1.5 percent last year, according to the latest Express Scripts annual Drug Trend Report. That was the smallest increase since the pharmacy benefits company first began tracking spending in 1993. Nearly half of all private insurance plans spent less per person year over year, including plans on the Obamacare exchange market, which saw drug spending fall more 3 percent. Overall drug spending for Medicare rose 2.3 percent, while the Medicaid safety net program saw a 3.7 percent spending increase last year. Among the biggest drivers of the lower trend, a near 31 percent drop in the unit cost of cholesterol drugs, and a 13 percent decrease in pain and inflammation drug costs due to more patients being steered to new lower-cost generics.

  • Trump Proposes Reduction of Drug Costs Under Medicare  Associated Press by Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar & Matthew Perrone — President Donald Trump will propose lowering prescription drug costs for Medicare beneficiaries by allowing them to share in rebates that drug companies pay to insurers and middlemen, an administration official said. A senior administration official outlined the plan Thursday on condition of anonymity ahead of the release of Trump's 2019 budget plan next week. Pharmaceutical companies now pay rebates to insurers and pharmacy benefit managers to help their medications gain a bigger slice of the market. Insurers apply savings from rebates to keep premiums more manageable. Under Trump's proposal, seniors covered by Medicare's popular "Part D". 

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