Trending News Today: Potential Orphan Drug Tax Credit Repeal Spurs Controversy

Top news of the day from across the health care landscape.

Massachusetts officials plan to test an approach to lowering drug costs that will allow the state to negotiate Medicaid discounts and exclude drugs that do not provide value, according to Kaiser Health News. Medicaid is currently required to cover nearly all FDA-approved drugs and, in exchange, manufacturers provide discounts. However, state legislators say that the rebates do not offset drugs costs, which increased 25% in 2014 and 14% in 2015, according to the article. If approved, it is likely that other states will try this approach, Kaiser reported.

Under the proposed GOP tax reform package, Republicans are seeking to roll back the orphan drug tax credit; however, advocacy groups and some manufacturers claim this action may threaten the development of novel therapies, according to The Hill. The credit covers 50% of the costs for the research and testing of drugs intended to treat diseases that affect less than 200,000 individuals. A recent study suggests that without the credit, there would have been 33% fewer orphan drugs brought to market over the last 30 years, suggesting that patients would not have access to therapies, according to the article.

A new study found that medically-supervised detoxification for opioid use disorder is costly and ineffective compared with medication-assisted treatment, according to the Los Angeles Times. Researchers agree that combining drug abstinence with long-acting opioids such as methadone or buprenorphine is more effective than detox alone. This approach was observed to save $78,257 per patient and can lead to longer lifespans, according to the LA Times.

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