President Obama Continues to Push Medicare Drug Price Negotiation
This week in healthcare, President Obama proposes that Medicare be allowed to negotiate drug prices and the CEO of Sloan-Kettering ponders new learning in the quest to cure cancer.
The New York Times wonders about a paradox in President Obama’s statements regarding goals for healthcare: “He has asked Congress to let Medicare officials negotiate prices with drug manufacturers — a practice explicitly forbidden by current law. At the same time, the administration, through the National Institutes of Health, is off and running with its “precision medicine” initiative, meant to develop personalized therapies like those now on the market to treat illnesses like cancer and cystic fibrosis at a cost of tens of thousands of dollars. Prices over $50,000 or $100,000 a year are not unusual.”
Craig Thompson, President and CEO of Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, shares his thoughts on new learning and knowledge gained on the journey toward a cure for cancer.
As stakeholders and patient advocates continue to delve into the link between financial and personal health, one private insurance company is offering its consumers a combined financial and health score. According to the company’s president, “Since more than 60 percent of bankruptcies in the United States are caused by medical bills, it’s important that employees understand the connection between health and wealth.”
This Bloomberg Business article takes a look at the first-quarter performance of some of the pharmaceutical world’s biggest players, noting that “Pfizer Inc., Merck & Co. and Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. all beat Wall Street’s earnings projections in the first quarter, with sales of their new oncology drugs surpassing expectations. Analysts estimate each drugmaker will have a multibillion-dollar blockbuster cancer treatment by 2018.”
In an interview with leukemia expert Hagop M. Kantarjian, MD, The ASCO Post takes a look at the quest for lower cancer drug costs. Dr. Kantarjian argues that “in the intimate doctor-patient setting, it’s all about delivering the best care to our vulnerable cancer patients. Cost discussions should be reserved for the larger public forum.”
The AIS Report on Blue Cross and Blue Shield Plans
This monthly report “delivers timely news and insightful analysis of new products, market share, management strategies, profitability, strategic alliances and executive compensation of Blue Cross and Blue Shield plans, which dominate health insurance markets across the U.S.”
Recently CMS released specific item-by-item information detailing how it spent $103 billion on drugs in 2013. The most costly drug was Nexium, which is used to treat heartburn, and the most frequently prescribed was lisinopril, a generic used to treat high blood pressure after heart attacks.
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