National Consumers League

Health Advisory Council Member Updates | Q1 2019

AARP

On March 12, 2019, AARP announced the launch of ‘Stop Rx Greed,’ a nationwide campaign aimed at lowering prescription drug prices. The goal of the campaign is to help drive down drug prices for all Americans by advocating for a variety of legislative, executive, and regulatory actions at both the federal and state level. As part of the campaign, AARP conducted a national survey of likely voters ages 50 and older which found that significant majorities of them shared concerns about the high price of drugs, and support common-sense policies that will lower prices.

AMAG Pharmaceuticals

On January 17, 2019, AMAG Pharmaceuticals announced that it completed its acquisition of Perosphere Pharmaceuticals Inc., a private biopharmaceutical company. AMAG’s acquisition is an opportunity to add an innovative, durable and differentiated clinical asset to its portfolio. Through this acquisition, AMAG adds ciraparantag to its development portfolio. Ciraparantag is in development as a single dose, ready-to-use solution for use in patients treated with novel oral anticoagulants (NOACs) or low molecular weight heparin (LMWH) when reversal of the anticoagulant effect of these products is needed for emergency surgery, urgent procedures, or due to life-threatening or uncontrolled bleeding. Ciraparantag has been granted Fast Track review designation by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and has patent protection until 2034. 

America’s Health Insurance Plans

Earlier this year, AHIP launched Better Care America, a healthcare information project. Through BCA, AHIP is working with policymakers and the public on real solutions to improve care, lower costs, and ensure every American has affordable coverage, access to high-quality care, and the ability to make healthcare choices that are right for them. Health care shouldn’t be complicated and confusing – Better Care America provides tools and resources to build on what’s working and fix what isn’t in today’s system.  

Association for Accessible Medicines

The Association for Accessible Medicines (AAM) was one of many organizations that weighed-in with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) on April 1st to support its recent proposal that, if implemented, would immediately lower patient spending on drugs by a large degree. In its call letter outlining policies for Medicare Advantage and Medicare Part D prescription drug plans for 2020, CMS suggested the straightforward proposition that generic drugs belong on plans’ generic drug formulary tiers with low copays instead of co-mingled onto tiers with brands as they are today. The proposal would increase access, reduce patient confusion, and save our nation’s patients more than $4 billion per year.

A new report from Avalere Health provided further evidence that America’s patients are needlessly spending too much out-of-pocket for affordable generics: Since 2015, seniors have paid nearly $22 billion in additional out-of-pocket costs for their prescription drugs in Medicare. This means that seniors using low-cost generic drugs were forced to pay billions more for low-cost medicines even as the prices of their drugs declined. America’s patients and taxpayers should receive the full value of competition from more affordable generic and biosimilar medicines. Instead of using higher co-pays for generic drugs, health plans and policymakers can help patients by ensuring that generic and biosimilar medicines are immediately placed on accessible, low-cost tiers. You can read AAM’s comment letter here

BeMedWise at NeedyMeds 

BeMedWise at NeedyMeds announces a new partnership with Maryland’s Worcester County Health Department (includes Ocean City, MD). This spring, the Worcester County Health Department will launch BeMedWise’s Talk Before You Take program with a focus on the importance of patient advocacy and awareness about opioids. Educational materials including rack cards (English and Spanish) have been developed with messaging for patients and healthcare professionals to enhance understanding and evaluate the benefits and potential risks when using opioid medications. The educational materials will be distributed to doctor’s offices, clinics, and health fairs throughout the county.

Sharps disposal is a public health and safety issue that is commonly overlooked. Information about safely disposing of sharps is difficult to come by and often misunderstood. SafeNeedleDisposal.org, a project of NeedyMeds, is the most comprehensive information resource for home-generated sharps disposal in the United States. It is listed on the FDA website and has been mentioned in Consumer Reports. The website provides information on state guidelines as well as listings of disposal locations and programs. There is also guidance on sharps management and a Resource Center to download or order educational materials.

Read the latest BeMedWise blog, Patient Safety & Poison Prevention, in recognition of Poison Prevention Week (March 17-23, 2019). To learn more or find out how you can get involved in BeMedWisecontact Deborah.Davidson@needymeds.org.

Consumer Healthcare Products Association

The Consumer Healthcare Products Association (CHPA) recently released the results of a study on the value of over-the-counter (OTC) medicines to the U.S. healthcare system. The new research, conducted by IRI for CHPA, looked at nine major therapeutic categories of OTC medicines, finding that the availability of OTC medicines provides $146 billion in value to the U.S. healthcare system every year. Additionally, OTC medicines provide additional value through expanded access to more than 27 million consumers who would otherwise forgo treatment – more than 13 million Americans for allergies alone.

CHPA has launched a multi-pronged communications strategy and encourages all stakeholders to leverage our new findings and collateral, including infographics, video, and a social media kit. Check out our new microsite to learn more: www.overthecountervalue.org

Eli Lilly and Company

Eli Lilly and Company recently announced plans to make available a lower-priced authorized generic version of its most commonly used insulin. Its list price will be 50 percent less than the branded version – immediately providing a more affordable option for certain Americans in high-deductible health insurance plans, the uninsured, and seniors that hit the coverage gap in their Medicare Part D plans.

Lilly is working with partners in the supply chain to stock U.S. pharmacies as quickly as possible.

The significant rebates companies like Lilly pay on insulins do not directly benefit all patients, and this needs to change. In the meantime, Lilly’s solutions can help address gaps in the healthcare system until a more sustainable model is achieved.

FDA Office of Women’s Health

The FDA Office of Women’s Health (OWH) is pleased to announce Kaveeta Vasisht M.D., Pharm.D as the new Deputy Director and Acting Associate Commissioner. OWH is also excited to have Rashetta Fairnot MSW, LMSW on board as the new Director of Outreach and Communications.

OWH is actively updating its publications to include content updates and a refreshed visual identity, ensuring that OWH continues to provide women timely and free health information in a clear and easy-to-read format.

National Association of Nurse Practitioners in Women’s Health

NPWH will hold its sixth annual Women’s Sexual Health Course for NPs in Orlando, FL May 30 – June 2. We recently released the first look at H.E.R. Hub, our upcoming patient portal. Finally, we are continuing to work to advance older women’s health care with our bOlder Women’s Health Coalition and anticipate an official Coalition launch in May 2019. To learn more about the Coalition, click here.

National Community Pharmacists Association

Drug pricing

The 2020 Medicare Part C/D Pricing Proposed Rule closed its comment period on January 25. NCPA submitted comments, a joint letter with more than 150 pharmacy stakeholder organizations, joint comments with the National Association of Chain Drug Stores (NACDS) and the National Association of Specialty Pharmacy (NASP), as well as joint comments with the American Society of Consultant Pharmacists (ASCP) and Senior Care Pharmacy Coalition (SCPC). Additionally, more than 3,300 pharmacists voiced their support and two dozen patient advocacy organizations supported the rule.

NCPA continues to advocate for the elimination of, or at the very least, prospective application of pharmacy price concessions (also known as pharmacy DIR) in Medicare Part D, which CMS estimates could save beneficiaries about $7.1 to $9.2 billion over 10 years resulting from reduced cost-sharing. This is because patients’ out-of-pocket spending is reduced when pharmacy price concessions are included in the negotiated price and applied at the point of sale. In a recently proposed rule, CMS correctly stated, “beneficiary cost-sharing is generally calculated as a percentage of the negotiated price. When pharmacy price concessions are not reflected in the negotiated price at the point of sale ... beneficiary cost-sharing increases, covering a larger share of the actual cost of a drug.” NCPA’s analysis of the recently proposed rule on pharmacy price concessions is available here. Should your organization have any questions regarding this proposed policy change, please contact NCPA’s advocacy team.