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Genentech Narrows Distribution Channel for Oncology Drugs and Soaring Generic Drug Prices Challenge Stakeholders

IP Blog | Dave Melin | November 23, 2014

BioBlogWeeklyThis week in healthcare, HHS admits its ACA enrollment numbers were inflated, oncology clinical pathways lead to cost savings and generic drug prices are “wreaking havoc.”

Genentech Irks Providers With Distribution Change For Infusibles

After Genentech narrowed its distribution channels for infusible drugs Avastin, Herceptin, and Rituxan from over 80 down to six, providers and hospitals are protesting the change. A spokesperson from Genentech said, “The change does not impact how physicians or authorized specialty pharmacies purchase Avastin, Herceptin and Rituxan.” Some providers, however, say that this switch — combined with a recent price hike for some Genentech drugs — will result in increased financial burden for providers, delivery delays, and a move by some providers to ban sales of Genentech products.

Pharmacist Testifies: Generic Drug Price Spikes Wreaking Havoc on Patients, Pharmacists and Health Care Payers

Last week at a hearing of the Senate Subcommittee on Primary Health & Aging, a pharmacist testified that rapid spikes in the price of generic drugs are “wreaking havoc” on payers, pharmacists, and especially patients: “Historically, generic drugs have provided significant cost savings to payers and consumers alike by providing safe and effective alternatives to typically more costly brand name drugs. Therefore it was extremely concerning when, about a year ago, pharmacies began noticing a rash of dramatic price increases for many common, previously low-cost generic drugs. … Ultimately, everyone pays for these cost increases, now or later. Insurance plans aren’t likely to simply just absorb these higher costs, so even those with generous insurance plans will pay the price in higher future premiums.”

More Obamacare troubles: Enrollment numbers inflated

After an otherwise quiet start to enrollment, the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has acknowledged that it counted dental plans in its tally of Obamacare enrollees, saying that there were “7.3 million Americans enrolled in the health insurance marketplace coverage.” In fact, without the 380,000 dental enrollees, the total did not reach the 7-million-enrollee goal that HHS had set.

Clinical Pathways Can Lead to Cost Savings, Better Care

In a recent article, Dr. Marcus Neubauer of McKesson Specialty Health and The US Oncology Network argues for the effectiveness of clinical pathways: “Several studies from McKesson Specialty Health and The US Oncology Network reported over the last decade support the use of evidence-based guidelines, specifically Level I Pathways, as an effective method for lowering cost while still demonstrating outcomes similar to those in the published literature.”

Deal by Cystic Fibrosis Foundation Raises Cash and Some Concern

The Cystic Fibrosis Foundation is about to cash in on an investment made 15 years ago: after giving money to a small biotech company to develop drugs to fight cystic fibrosis, the foundation is now expected to sell the rights to those drugs for $3.3 billion. Many say this huge payoff will encourage other patient advocacy organizations to pursue similar partnerships in business, but others wonder if this seeming drift towards a profit focus will undermine the patient-focused goals of patient advocacy organizations.

3 factors affecting the ACA’s future

As the new enrollment season opens, the ACA has several issues still in limbo. FierceHealthPayer reports on three: 1. Subsidy funding could be gutted; 2. The work week definition could be changed; and 3. Courts will decide legal issues, such as whether the government will be allowed to provide subsidies.

Medicaid expansion news from four states

Four states are experiencing growing pains as they expand Medicaid in their territories. In California, 8.6 million previously-enrolled residents were forced to reapply when eligibility regulations changed. In Indiana, “60,000 Hoosiers may lose coverage under the Healthy Indiana Plan–an alternative insurance for low-income residents–after the state’s failure to file a complete application requesting federal permission to extend the program.”

Understanding Health Insurance

Produced by the Kaiser Family Foundation, here is a collection of resources and information to help those who are shopping for insurance. Resources include a health insurance quiz, a cartoon video, a health insurance calculator, and a list of Frequently Asked Questions about the ACA Marketplace.

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