Legislative Efforts Make This an ‘Interesting Time’ to Be in Health Care Space

Specialty Pharmacy Times2018 Asembia Recap
Volume 9
Issue 4

President Donald Trump recently called for “tougher negotiation, more competition, and much lower prices at the pharmacy counter,” in a statement on lowering drug prices.

President Donald Trump recently called for “tougher negotiation, more competition, and much lower prices at the pharmacy counter,” in a statement on lowering drug prices.

The statement, which was issued after the Ase- mbia Specialty Pharmacy Summit 2018, was the subject of a session at the meeting between Matt Brow, of Avalere Health, and Forbes health care journalist Bruce Japsen. The discussion focused largely on bringing “drug prices under control.”

President Trump pointed to the reformation of the Drug Discount Program for safety net hospitals as a step in that direction. The administration has also acted to remove barriers to generic drug development and market entry in an effort to spur competition.

In a statement from FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, MD, after the President’s comments, it was noted that the FDA is “prioritizing actions to encourage the timely development and approval of generics and biosimilars.”

Gottlieb added that “one key aspect of our role is to strengthen and enhance the overall generic drug review process. We’ve committed to timelier generic drug reviews to reduce the cycles of review that generic applications typically undergo. In 2017, we approved a record number of generic drug applications—more than 1000 full or tentative approvals.” Gottlieb noted that the FDA plans to continue to work to promote drug competition and access for patients.

Brow and Japsen said that changes in federal legislation are making this an “interesting time” to work in the health care space.

One “thing that’s most striking about the proposal in the president’s budget [is that] it actually does include an explicit price control on inflation of drug prices,” Brow said during the Asembia discussion. “This is a rather seminal moment for the drug pricing discussion...that a presidential administration, a policy maker, was willing to say the government could actively be involved in negotiating pricing.”

In his comments, Trump noted he has directed officials to take action to end what he termed “global freeloading,” which he explained as reduced prices on drugs in other countries compared with the United States, where much of the investment funds for medical research originate.

Brow and Japsen said that emerging technologies are opening an entirely new world of possibilities with payment structures, noting that health care providers could see a day in which they would be working directly with manufacturers of products such as health care monitoring devices and getting reimbursed based on improved outcomes and reduced costs.

Both men said that social determinants of health care are likely to drive future legislative efforts in the health care space. As Japsen noted, some health care companies have already begun paying room and board for people with lower income who have mental illnesses and other health issues as a way to keep them out of hospitals. He mentioned a recent article regarding car service apps potentially getting into the health care space by offering to drive older patients or those who can’t drive themselves to medical visits.

Of note, the President’s plan also bans the Pharmacist Gag Rule, which punishes pharmacists for telling patients how to save money

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