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Cancer Treatment News, Updates on Laws Impacting Healthcare and Insurance Costs and More in This Week’s BioBlog

IP Blog | Innovation Partners | October 15, 2017

In this week’s Innovation Partners BioBlog, cancer is once again in the news, from an increase in obesity and overweight-related cancer diagnosis to drug companies voluntarily lowering chemotherapy drug costs in Africa. President Trump may issue an executive order to undermine portions of the ACA while Iowa is already taking steps in that direction. A look at the headlines affecting the world of healthcare innovation in this week’s BioBlog.

Express Scripts buying eviCore for $3.6 billion

Express Scripts Holding Co. agreed to pay $3.6 billion for eviCore, a company that pre-approves medical tests for insurers. The move comes as news of a possible Amazon.com pharmacy hit the marketplace along with the continued threat that Express Scripts will lose Anthem, their biggest customer.

Food and Drug Chief Gottlieb Skirts Health Secretary Talk, Says Most Effective at FDA

U.S. Food and Drug Commissioner Scott Gottlieb repeated that he feels he can best serve the Trump administration in his current roles as FDA Commissioner than moving into the recently vacated role of U.S. Health and Human Services Director. Gottlieb stated he wishes to see through the policies he’s put into place through the FDA. Although Gottlieb’s name has been in the rumor mill in Washington, there is no confirmation from either Gottlieb or the Administration that he has been approached for the HHS position.

Cancer Drug Prices Are at a Tipping Point

The high price of cancer drugs makes for good outrage-generating headlines, but Bloomberg writer Max Nisen carefully outlines the reasons why cancer medications are so expensive, and why that may shift in the future.

Battle over drug prices shifts back to the states

Despite consumer questions and political rhetoric, little has been done to examine or rein in the cost of drugs. However, new legislation in California seeking to improve clarity around drug pricing may be the first step. Other say that SB 17 does little to aid consumers since discounts to large insurers, pharmacy rebate policies, and other business practices remain hidden.

Californians will get more information on what’s driving prescription drug prices under law signed by governor

Supporters of California SB 17 call the law the most sweeping drug reform law in the nation. Opponents claim it does little to shed light on deeper issues such as insurer discounts and rebate policies that add to the cost of drugs. Under the new law, drug makers are required to provide notice to health plans and purchasers 60 days in advance of price hikes if the increase exceeds a set threshold amount. Health plans must also submit detailed reports on the most frequently prescribed drugs. A look at the new law in this article.

Trump says health executive order ‘probably this week’

President Trump indicated he expects to sign an executive order within the week that will allow small business to band together to purchase better coverage, as well as open up competition for health plans across state lines. Although details remain unclear, the President is sending clear signals that he intends to open up new elements of marketplace competition for the health insurance industry.

In New Test for Obamacare, Iowa Seeks to Abandon Marketplace

Iowa may be the first state to test the limits of the Affordable Care Act. The state wishes to drop several major points of the mandate including the federally run insurance marketplace, the system for providing subsidies, and other aspects such as assistance for poor and low-income families to obtain health insurance. If Iowa continues successfully along this path, it could open the door for other states to do the same.

Cancers Associated With Overweight and Obesity Make Up 40% of Cancers Diagnosed in the United States

Being overweight or obese is associated with 13 types of cancer. These cancers account for 40% of all cancers diagnosed in the United States in 2014, according to a report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. During the period 2013-2014, two out of three adults in the United States were diagnosed as overweight or obese. About 630,000 people were diagnosed during that period with cancers related to being overweight or obese. The rate of obesity-related cancers increased by 7% while other types of non-obesity related cancers decreased.

As Cancer Tears Through Africa, Drug Makers Draw Up a Battle Plan

Two drug makers, Pfizer and Cipla, promised to charge rock-bottom prices for cancer treatment drugs used in Africa. Sixteen common chemotherapy drugs are included in this deal, which is aimed at helping cancer patients throughout Africa. The plan is modeled on similar ones used to combat AIDS in Africa. Pfizer will sell the drugs at just above cost, while Cipla dropped its prices to a fraction of what it charges in wealthier nations. Cancer kills 450,000 Africans annually, with most cancers.

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