National Consumers League

Health Advisory Council Member Updates | Fall 2017

Updates on Health Advisory Council Member programs | Fall 2017

AARP
The Global Council on Brain Health (GCBH) launched its most recent report, Engage Your Brain: GCBH Recommendations on Cognitively Stimulating Activities. The full report and associated infographics can be reached via the hyperlinks in this update or online at www.GlobalCouncilonBrainHealth.org.

The GCBH agreed that stimulating your brain benefits cognitive health and impacts how well your brain functions as you age. The GCBH outlined 9 recommendations and provided practical tips to help maintain brain health, and explained the state of science on brain training. AARP is trying to get this practical guidance out broadly, so please pass it along to colleagues and friends.

America’s Health Insurance Plans (AHIP)
Over the past six months, the AHIP-convened Modern Medicaid Alliance (MMA) organized a comprehensive multi-state campaign to educate key policymakers about the value of the modern Medicaid program. This includes the innovative solutions used to deliver care through Medicaid and the impact Medicaid is having on the lives of tens of millions of Americans. Through meetings with Members of Congress, in-state thought leader summits, digital advertising, media outreach, and extensive deployment of the voices of MMA’s 37 member organizations and other stakeholders, the MMA is getting its message out about the importance of maintaining funding for Medicaid. The end goal is to protect and promote the health of the program’s 70 million beneficiaries. Thankfully, Congress did not pass legislation that would strip Medicaid of critical funding. So far that is.

This month, the MMA launched a "Medicaid Dashboard” in collaboration with Morning Consult. This customizable webpage allows visitors to easily view, parse, and interact with integrated Medicaid datasets; gives users the ability to convert data into social sharing and email content, or build reports to be used for presentations or as one-pagers or leave-behinds for use on Capitol Hill; and features polling results focused on today’s modern Medicaid program. It can be found on the Modern Medicaid Alliance website and will be updated as appropriate.

American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP)
ASHP is currently focused on its upcoming lobby day, Wednesday, September 27, 2017. ASHP will once again be highlighting the Pharmacy and Medically Underserved Areas Enhancement Act (H.R. 592, S. 109). Both bills have bipartisan support. ASHP is a lead member of the Patient Access to Pharmacists’ Care Coalition (PAPCC), which is spearheading the effort to pass the bills. NCL is also a member of PAPCC. ASHP will also discuss drug prices, express support for the 340B program, and ASHP’s continued focus on addressing the opioid epidemic.

Further, ASHP recently commented to CMS on two proposed rules, the physician fee schedule proposal and the Hospital Outpatient Prospective Payment System (HOPPS) rule. On the physician fee proposal, ASHP is pleased to see a payment mechanism for the Diabetes Prevention Program. For the HOPPS proposed rule, ASHP expressed concern over a proposed cut to reimbursement rates for entities participating in the 340B drug discount program. 

Association for Accessible Medicines (AAM)
On September 12-13, 2017, the Association for Accessible Medicines (AAM) and its Biosimilars Council brought together industry representatives, U.S. government officials, and academic experts to discuss the future of biosimilars at the 2017 AAM Biosimilars Council Conference - Leading on Biosimilars. The event featured presentations from key industry leaders, including Andy Slavitt, former Acting Administrator for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) and Adrian van den Hoven, Director General of Medicines for Europe.

A focus of the conference was biosimilar education and sessions dedicated to educating the public, patients, and healthcare professionals about the safety and effectiveness of biosimilars. The Council used the conference as a platform to announce an update to its handbook, The New Frontier for Improved Access to Medicines: Biosimilars & Interchangeable Biologic Products. The updated handbook is a reference tool for all stakeholders, and in particular patients and healthcare professionals interested in learning more about biosimilars and interchangeable biologics. The publication explains the benefits and science behind biosimilar medicines — safe, effective alternatives to costly biologic therapies. It also explains who will benefit from access to these medicines, outlines the legal and regulatory framework, and illuminates the quality manufacturing and development process in approachable language. 

Additionally, AAM and the Council announced the results of a new patient access study, “Biosimilars in the United States: Providing More Patients Greater Access to Lifesaving Medicines” published by Avalere Health for the Council. The study found that 1.2 million U.S. patients could gain access to biologics by 2025 as the result of biosimilar availability. Women, lower income, and elderly patients would particularly benefit from access to biosimilar medicines. These and other resources are available on the Biosimilars Council website, here.

Consumer Healthcare Products Association (CHPA) Educational Foundation
Reminding Parents about Safe Storage during June’s National Safety Month

For the third year in a row, the Up and Away campaign championed the critical importance of safe medicine storage for National Safety Month, specifically highlighting the risks of unsafe storage during the summer travel season. Utilizing the most effective tactics of past rallies, the campaign reached more parents and caregivers than ever before. Through partner activation, highly targeted Facebook and Instagram advertising, radio news, and influencer marketing with eight diverse bloggers, the Up and Away campaign garnered more impressions than the 2015 and 2016 National Safety Month rallies combined, and is our single most successful rally yet, with more than 43 million impressions. A big thank you goes to FDA, CDC, and all of our PROTECT Initiative partners for sharing our messages around safe storage during the busy summer travel months – a habit that will keep kids safe all year long.

FDA Center for Drug Evaluation and Research (FDA/CDER) 
On September 14, 2017, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) launched an educational campaign aimed at raising awareness about the value of generic drugs, or generics. The campaign is designed to impart two central messages:

  1. Generic drugs have the same safety, effectiveness and quality standards as their name-brand counterparts; and 
  2. Patients and their doctors should talk to each other about exploring generic alternatives to brand-name medications.

The campaign consists of a consumer-focused 30-second television public service announcement (PSA), a print and digital campaign for health care professionals, and updated FDA web content, including fact sheets and infographics, for the consumer audience. Look for campaign materials, including the PSA, at http://www.fda.gov/genericdrugs.

Momenta Pharmaceuticals, Inc. 
Momenta Pharmaceuticals, along with a number of NCL Health Advisory Council members, participated in the July 18 meeting at the FDA examining regulatory actions to ensure that the intended balance between encouraging innovation in drug development and accelerating the availability to the public of lower cost alternatives to innovator drugs is maintained. The FDA Commissioner, along with a number of stakeholders, consumers, industry, and academics alike, called for action to accelerate generic and biosimilar approvals, eliminate barriers to access to reference products, and promote patient access in a variety of ways. The presentations and testimony can be viewed at: https://www.fda.gov/Drugs/NewsEvents/ucm563986.htm 

National Alliance for Caregiving
Join the National Alliance for Caregiving for the 12th Annual National Conference of Caregiver Advocates. Our one-day meeting will be hosted in partnership with the American Society on Aging at the Aging in America 2017 Conference, on Monday, March 26, 2018 in San Francisco. For more, go to http://www.caregiving.org/coalitions/annual-conference/.  

National Association of Nurse Practitioners in Women’s Health (NPWH) 
NPWH is in full swing preparing for its 20th Annual NPWH Premier Women’s Healthcare Conference on October 11-14, 2017 in Seattle. NPWH will host more than 600 attendees for learning, reflecting, and networking. Shortly after the conference, on November 2, NPWH will convene its second annual Healthy At Any Age: Women’s Health After 50 summit. NPWH is also excited to have just published the fourth edition of its NPWH Well-Woman Visit App, featuring a new section on menopause.

National Council on Patient Information and Education (NCPIE)
This October, NCPIE’s annual “Talk About Your Medicines” Month will focus on potential risks of combining alcohol and medications -- a compelling health and safety issue. Our theme is Think Before You Drink -- sometimes, alcohol and medicines don't mix. This can be especially so for America's aging Baby Boomers and older adults. BeMedWise.org will offer tips and resources for patients, caregivers, and health care providers to help prevent medication interactions and important facts about aging, alcohol, and prescription medications. Please contact Deborah Davidson at ddavidson@ncpie.info to get the 2017 TAYM Month communications toolkit. 

National Partnership for Women and Families
The National Partnership for Women & Families analyzed new data released on September 12, 2017 by the U.S. Census Bureau, which points to significant gains for women in access to health insurance under the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The ACA corrected longstanding, discriminatory gaps in access to insurance coverage for women by expanding Medicaid coverage, establishing marketplaces to shop for insurance, and providing financial assistance to make coverage affordable. The ACA also guaranteed coverage for a robust scope of benefits, including maternity care, preventive care, mental health services, prescription drugs and more. Nonetheless, as the data show, progress is still needed to ensure all women have health coverage and persistent health disparities are eliminated. Check out the National Partnership’s analysis of the health insurance coverage data here.

Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA)

Healthcare Ready has been activated for Hurricane Maria, and remains engaged for Hurricanes Harvey and Irma. The organization has been working with private sector partners to restore healthcare operations and reconnect patients to healthcare following these natural disasters. The Rx Open map (rxopen.org), which covers more than 90% of all pharmacies in the US, has been activated for TX, LA, FL, GA, SC and Puerto Rico. The attached infographic highlighting some of our work and our emergency pages can be found at: healthcareready.org/Mariahealthcareready.org/Harvey, and healthcareready.org/Irma.

USP
On September 19, 2017 at the United Nations General Assembly in New York City, USP launched the Quality Institute -- a unique program established to enable evidence-based discussions and provide the rationale for investments in quality of medicines.

The USP Quality Institute will provide much-needed research and data to enable evidence-based policy decisions that can help increase the availability of quality medicines everywhere, helping to build a foundation for a healthier world. The Quality Institute will help to provide governments and health policy makers with better data about the benefits of quality medicine to make strategic decisions about where to invest scarce resources. For more information, please contact Amy Sonderman at amy@usp.org. 

Valeant Pharmaceuticals International, Inc.
Valeant is a global specialty pharmaceutical company focused on fulfilling our mission of improving people’s lives with our health care products. We develop, manufacture and market a range of pharmaceutical products, primarily in the specialty therapeutic areas of eye health, gastroenterology, and dermatology. Our leadership is delivering on our commitment to patients and society, as we build a sustainable company dedicated to advancing global health. In May 2016, Valeant established a Patient Access and Pricing Committee to help our company ensure patients have the best possible access to our products. Additionally, we have pledged that the average annual price increase for our prescription products will be set at no greater than single digits and will be below the 5-year weighted average of increases within the branded biopharmaceutical industry.