National Consumers League

Health Advisory Council Member Updates | Q2 2019

AMAG Pharmaceuticals 

On May 3, 2019, AMAG Pharmaceuticals released new data at the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) Annual Clinical and Scientific Meeting on their investigational drug bremelanotide (BMT), for the treatment of hypoactive sexual desire disorder (HSDD). HSDD is a legitimate medical condition affecting approximately 1 in 10 women in the U.S. At ACOG, AMAG also presented new data regarding Feraheme® (ferumoxytol) related to iron deficiency anemia (IDA) resulting from abnormal uterine bleeding (AUB). Iron deficiency anemia is a common, treatable condition that occurs when iron stores deplete due to an imbalance between iron uptake and iron utilization. IDA affects an estimated 5 million adults in the United States. Women are generally at higher risk for IDA than men, and there are several causes of heavy uterine bleeding that result in low iron levels.

America’s Health Insurance Plans

The Modern Medicaid Alliance (MMA), convened by America’s Health Insurance Plans (AHIP), spent this spring collaborating with our members to spotlight the diverse populations who rely on Medicaid. That included a resource on “Medicaid Millennials” to detail the unique health challenges the generation faces and highlight the critical role Medicaid plays in supporting them and an interview with Blue Star Families, a nonprofit organization that works to support military families, to explore the role that Medicaid plays in providing coverage to veterans and their families. In May, we took a focus on Mental Health Month with a one-pager on Medicaid and mental health and interviews with Alliance members who work in the mental health arena.

In June, the Alliance is partnering with the Health Care Transformation Task Force (HCTTF) to host a Congressional briefing on “Pursuing Value in Medicaid: States as Transformation Leaders.” The briefing will feature health care leaders from across the industry, educating congressional staff, policymakers, and health care industry stakeholders about significant successes and challenges from state-led health care innovation efforts. 

ASHP

ASHP has become a sponsoring member of the National Academy of Medicine Action Collaborative on Countering the U.S. Opioid Epidemic. The mission of the Action Collaborative is to convene and catalyze public, private, and non-profit stakeholders to develop, curate, and disseminate multi-sector solutions designed to reduce opioid misuse and improve outcomes for individuals, families, and communities affected by the opioid crisis. ASHP made a number of commitments to the Action Collaborative, including, among others, creation and dissemination of patient and prescriber education on pain management and opioid abuse mitigation best practices, enhanced patient access to evidence-based treatment for opioid use disorder through increased utilization of pharmacists on the healthcare team, and standardization of a framework for pain stewardship to coordinate pain management, opioid prescribing, and use of non-opioid therapies.

BeMedWise at NeedyMeds

This October, BeMedWise at NeedyMeds will celebrate 34 years of “Talk About Your Medicines” Month (TAYMM). It’s never been more important to be BeMedWise and “Talk About Your Medicines,” a well-recognized health observance month, that has grown and expanded over three decades to stimulate conversations between patients, caregivers and their healthcare providers about all the types of medicines they may take, with a focus on what to know about a medication in terms of expected health outcomes, possible side effects, benefits, and potential risks. For 2019, we plan to keep a spotlight on opioid abuse awareness and prevention, safe storage, and disposal. We will showcase various BeMedWise initiatives that include all ages across the lifespan, as well as the valuable educational campaigns of the BeMedWise Council Supporters and Partners such as NCL’s Script Your Future, Allied Against Opioid Abuse, FDA’s “Remove the Risk”, CDC’s Protect Initiative, the Acetaminophen Awareness Coalition’s “Know Your Dose” and more.

NeedyMeds has launched a new discount program for critical durable medical equipment which is available to users of the NeedyMeds Drug Discount card and provides a cost savings of up to 40 percent when purchasing durable medical equipment and diabetic supplies. Included in the savings are popular items such as canes, crutches, walkers, splints, incontinence supplies, and more. Also covered are diabetic supplies such as meters, testing strips, lancets, and diabetic shoes. According to a statement by Rich Sagall, MD, president of NeedyMeds: “We are pleased to be able to help more people save on so many medically-necessary items. Our mission is to help people with the financial burdens of healthcare, and this new program assists in an area where there is little help available.” More details are available on the NeedyMeds website on the Durable Medical Equipment Discounts page and dme.myvirtualdoctor.com where consumers can locate and purchase these products. Users of the Drug Discount card already save millions of dollars every month on the cost of medications. There are no eligibility guidelines, meaning anyone can take advantage of this savings. The only restriction is that the savings are only for cash-paying customers and can’t be combined with private insurance or state or federal programs.

Read the latest blogs from BeMedWise - Meeting the Medicine Information Needs of Americans with Vision Loss and NeedyMeds - Doctors Prescribe Too Many Medications. To learn more about how you can get involved in BeMedWise, including opportunities to collaborate on educational program development, webinars and TAYMM, contact Deborah.Davidson@needymeds.org. 

CDC's Medication Safety Program

A recent American Journal of Preventive Medicine article by CDC’s Medication Safety Program estimated the rates of emergency department visits for unintentional pediatric ingestions of over-the-counter liquid medications. These product-specific rates of emergency department visits for accidental ingestions can be used to help target preventive interventions, such as enhancing safety packaging with flow restrictors.

Additionally, the Up and Away campaign recently launched its first safe storage testimonial video, reminding families with young children that safe medicine storage is critical to poison prevention and year-round household safety. Up and Away is an initiative of the PRevention of Overdoses and Treatment Errors in Children Taskforce (PROTECT) in partnership with the CDC.

Council for Affordable Healthcare

In May, the Council for Affordable Health Coverage (CAHC) released a package of policies to improve the affordability of and access to prescription drugs. While our comprehensive package contains numerous proposals, we are explicitly highlighting and advocating for policies centered around: value-based arrangements for drugs in federal health programs (Cassidy/Warner), a real-time benefit check tool so providers and patients can discuss drug prices at the point-of-prescription, and a Part D out-of-pocket cap for seniors. CAHC unveiled our drug policies at a May 10 briefing on Capitol Hill, and we are continuing advocacy efforts around these proposals this summer.

CAHC also held several briefings on the Administration’s ANPRM on the International Pricing Index and surprise billing. A summary of these briefings, along with all materials, can be found here.

This summer, CAHC is continuing our annual Capitol Hill education efforts around Medicare Parts B and D. We invite members and friends to join us during these meetings to talk about your organizations’ perspectives. To learn more about these efforts or request upcoming meeting dates, please contact Amanda Krzepicki (Amanda.krzepicki@cahc.net).

Healthcare Distribution Alliance

Spring has been a busy time for Allied Against Opioid Abuse (AAOA) and its partner organizations. In March, AAOA joined other leading national voices to raise awareness about the importance of prescription opioid safety. AAOA, along with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, National Safety Council and others, contributed content to a special insert in the March 27 edition of USA Today as part of an opioid awareness issue developed by Mediaplanet.  

Meanwhile, the National Pledge to Pause effort, a collaboration between AAOA and the PA Foundation, continued during the American Academy of PAs (AAPA) 2019 Conference in Denver. Students attending the conference joined the Pledge to Pause effort by committing to take a moment to pause and talk with their patients before prescribing an opioid medication. Pledge to Pause reminds providers of the importance of engaging with and educating their patients every time an opioid is prescribed.

AAOA has also been participating in conferences around the country, discussing efforts to educate patients, caregivers, and the medical community about opioid abuse prevention. AAOA returned for the second consecutive year to the Rx Drug Abuse & Heroin Summit in Atlanta, Ga., and participated in a discussion at the National Alliance of State Pharmacy Associations’ (NASPA) Spring Meeting about how pharmacists are addressing the opioid abuse epidemic. Additionally, the Healthcare Distribution Alliance (HDA) 2019 Distribution Management Conference and Expo brought together representatives from AAOA national partners — including founding member HDA, as well as the National Community Pharmacists Association (NCPA) and PA Foundation — for a panel discussion about the importance of convening stakeholders to address the opioid abuse epidemic.

AAOA will be holding a partner call in early summer to plan for the rest of 2019. For more information on AAOA activities or to get involved with the organization, please contact Lee Lynch (llynch@reservoircg.com).

HealthyWomen

HealthyWomen is pleased to announce a two-day science, innovation, and technology summit: Chronic Pain in Women: Focus on Treatment, Management, and Barriers, July 17-18, 2019, at the Turf Valley Resort in Ellicott City, MD. This two-day event will advance and amplify the current dialogue on the impact of chronic pain on women's health. We will address the current knowledge gaps and existing challenges in treating and managing chronic pain in women. Leading experts will join HealthyWomen for the robust examination of cutting edge and research on chronic pain, patients' lived experiences and industry perspectives throughout the summit. View agenda. Please join us. Register here.

In anticipation of the summit, the HealthyWomen team is fielding a survey focusing on how chronic pain impacts women’s lives. Please take a moment to complete the survey, if you have a chronic pain experience to share (and/or share the survey with your members). All survey input is anonymous. HealthyWomen will be sharing results with researchers, clinicians, and patients at HealthyWomen’s Chronic Pain Summit, July 17-28.

Johnson & Johnson

On March 28, 2019, Johnson & Johnson released the 2018 Janssen U.S. Transparency Report. This annual report provides an inside look at how Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies of Johnson & Johnson remains committed to responsible business practices that put patients first. The report highlights details on how Janssen invests resources into research and development, practices for pricing medicine, and innovative company programs that help people gain access to the medicines they need.

The top five things to know about the report include:

1) In 2018, the average net price of Janssen medicines declined 6.8%.; 2) Janssen’s investment in research and development is 86% more than what is spent on marketing and sales.; 3) In March 2019 Janssen voluntarily began including list price and typical out-of-pocket costs in U.S. pharmaceutical TV advertising, starting with the company’s most popular medicine.; 4) Janssen helped approximately 1 million patients with access, affordability, and treatment support through the Janssen CarePath program. This includes nearly 550,000 commercially insured patients who reduced their out-of-pocket costs through the Janssen CarePath Savings Program.; 5) Janssen worked with stakeholders to advance ideas, such as value-based care models and practical policy solutions to bring down costs for patients, that can help to create a better healthcare system.

For more information and to read the full report, visit https://transparencyreport.janssen.com.

National Community Pharmacists Association

Drug pricing

In early April, NCPA submitted comments on the Trump Administration proposal to prohibit the use of rebates in contracts between Part D plan sponsors and drug manufacturers. And in his remarks at the NCPA Congressional Pharmacy Fly-In, Sec. Azar said, "we are going to pay close attention to all the input we receive from stakeholders, like you." In our comments, we emphasized that while we stand with the administration in its efforts to lower drug prices, several "minimum requirements" are needed to eliminate the barriers inhibiting community pharmacists' relationships with patients. These requirements include fixing pharmacy DIR, timely payments, increasing transparency and financial viability, appropriate agency oversight of implementation, protections for small business, and the opportunity for independent community pharmacies to choose their business partners. In addition to NCPA’s comments, 260 comments were submitted by pharmacists through NCPA’s grassroots portal. The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) recently released a financial score on this proposed HHS OIG Safe Harbor rule, stating that if the proposed rule is finalized in its current form, the change will increase federal spending by $177 billion between 2020 and 2029.

National Association of Nurse Practitioners in Women’s Health

NPWH just held its largest Women’s Sexual Health Course for NPs to date, with over 200 NPs joining us in Orlando. Registration for our 22nd Annual Premier Women’s Healthcare Conference, being held Oct. 16-19, 2019, in Savannah, GA, is now open. We also held the latest convening of our BOlder Women’s Health Coalition in May. If you are interested in learning more about the coalition, please click here.

PhRMA

Last year, PhRMA’s member companies committed to providing patients and families with more transparency about medicine costs by voluntarily pointing patients to medicine cost information through their direct-to-consumer (DTC) television advertising. As part of this effort, PhRMA launched a new online platform on May 2, 2019 - the Medicine Assistance Tool, or MAT. MAT provides patients, caregivers, and health care providers with links to these new websites and includes an enhanced search tool to connect patients with medicine-specific financial assistance programs. In addition, MAT has resources to help patients navigate their insurance coverage. This effort is just one of several ways our members are working to ensure patients have the information they need to make more informed health care decisions.

For more information on the cost and financial assistance for brand-name medicines provided by the Medicine Assistance Tool, visit MAT.org.

Verde Environmental Technologies

Verde® Environmental Technologies, Inc., maker of the Deterra® Drug Deactivation System weighed in recently with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), Government Accountability Office (GAO), White House Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) and the United States Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to support programs and legislation that acknowledge and promote the effectiveness of at-home drug deactivation and disposal methods. These government agencies recognize deactivation as an effective means of ridding homes of unused, unwanted, and expired medications. This is encouraging news as Deterra is the only at-home disposal option that PERMANENTLY DEACTIVATES the drug rendering it unrecoverable and non-retrievable for all practical purposes. Moreover, Deterra meets the safe disposal standard for controlled substances set by the SUPPORT Act (SEC. 3032. SAFETY-ENHANCING PACKAGING AND DISPOSAL FEATURES of P.L. 115-271). For more information, visit DeterraSystem.com or call 612.568.1128.