Cost of Prescription Drugs Skyrocketing, Breast Cancer Patients Struggling to Pay for Care, and a New Flurry of Republican-Led Activity to Repeal the ACA in this Week’s Bio Blog
This week in the Innovation Partners Bio Blog, the attention is on costs – the costs of healthcare premiums, prescription drugs, breast cancer treatments, and more. And while the public’s attention is focused on the rising costs, a Republican-led delegation is once again urging for the repeal of the Affordable Care Act.
Republicans are once again agitating for a repeal and replace of the Affordable Care Act, according to a recent report. During the summer, a call to replace the ACA fell just one vote short when Sens. Susan Collins (R-Maine), Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) and John McCain (R-Ariz.) voted against it. The news that the Republicans are once again seeking to replace the ACA leaves watchers guessing about their next move, especially since it will take 60 votes (which means that 8 Democrats will need to join them) because the rules allowing a simple majority vote will expire.
Health insurer Anthem sent prescription drug costs to consumers soaring in California with a 30% increase in prescription drug costs for 2018. This is nearly double the estimate of two other major insurers and runs counter to industry trends nationwide. Economists and advocacy groups are questioning the increase.
FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb calls approval of the first U.S. cancer gene therapy ‘a significant milestone’
In a recent Washington Post interview, FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb is quoted as saying that the first U.S. cancer gene therapy is a significant milestone in the battle against cancer. He is referring to the FDA’s approval of CAR T-cell gene therapy in August 2017.
British healthcare cost watchdog group National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) recommended Bristol-Myers Squibb’s immunotherapy drug Opdivo for some patients with lung cancer after the drug maker agreed a discounted price. This move will help approximately 1,300 patients with lung cancer in the U.K. who will receive the drug through the Cancer Drugs Fund as part of the agreement.
ASCO President Bruce E. Johnson, MD, FASCO, commented in a letter on provisions in the proposed rules for the 2018 Medicare Physician Fee Schedule (MPFS) and the 2018 Hospital Outpatient Prospective Payment System (HOPPS). ASCO states that reductions to reimbursement for cancer care services would exacerbate the overall inadequacies in cancer care reimbursement and harm practices.
A survey by The Pink Fund found women diagnosed with breast cancer face enormous financial challenges. 37% of breast cancer survivors are still in debt due to treatment, 23% said the disease nearly bankrupted them, 47% of women are using their retirement account to pay for out of pocket expenses and 26% are paying with their credit card. This burden adds considerably to the stress of surgery, treatment, and recovery.
The World Health Organization (WHO) warns that the threat antibiotic resistance continues to grow worldwide. Not enough new antibiotics are being developed, and those that do reach the market lack enough of a difference from older formulas to make much of a difference. Of 51 new products in development for antibiotic-resistant infections, the WHO believes that only eight are innovative and add value to current options. Adding to the problem is the length of time it takes to develop, test, approve, and manufacture new drugs, including antibiotics.
There’s a sharp contrast between the price of health insurance premiums between those who are covered under employee-sponsored plans and those who obtain them through the ACA or other market solutions. Employee-sponsored plan premiums have remained relatively stable while ACA and other plan costs have soared. Small companies are the exception and still find it difficult to find affordable coverage. Across the board, health costs remain of concern to most families, even those with insurance.
Featured Research From 2017 Palliative and Supportive Care in Oncology Symposium Explores Communication, Quality of Life Issues for People With Cancer
The Press Program for the 2017 Palliative and Supportive Care in Oncology Symposium features topics including yoga as supportive care, patient-physician communications, and psychosocial support, the American Society of Clinical Oncology reports. Researchers will present findings on October 23, 2017.