The Medicare Payment Advisory Commission last week voted 15-0 to recommend that Congress enact new drug reimbursement laws through several proposals that would decrease Medicare spending by as much as $750 million in the first year of implementation and $5 billion over five years. But drugmakers and providers have previously and successfully lobbied hard against any such changes to the Medicare Part B program. MedPAC was suggesting cutting wholesale prices and negotiating drug prices to help curb the rising drug costs for the Part B program, which hit $26 billion in 2015.
A bipartisan House bill is trying to stop drugmakers from blocking generic and biosimilar competitors. The bill could save an estimated $5.4 billion a year in reduced drug costs by closing a regulatory loophole, according to Premier, a Charlotte, N.C.-based group purchasing organization and performance improvement company that supported the bill. Some drugmakers have barred competitors from accessing product samples they need to determine if their products are equivalent to the brand-name version. The Food and Drug Administration requires generic- and biosimilar-drug makers to conduct those studies before their drugs are approved.
A Georgia jury has awarded more than $20 million to a retired kindergarten teacher and her husband who claimed that drugmaker Akorn failed to include a warning on a prescription drug label that it would harmfully interact with another drug she was taking. Ann Pope lapsed into a coma and suffers from permanent cognitive damage after she was given methylene blue during a surgery at Perry (Ga.) Hospital. The Food and Drug Administration in 2011 warned that the drug could cause serious central-nervous system reactions when used with a drug she was taking. According to court documents, Akorn knew about that FDA warning.