The Week in Review in Drug Pricing

A stormy turn in the drug pricing world and a Rose Garden speech by the president that could have used more thorns.
 
Welcome to the Week in Review in Drug Pricing!
 
1. Novartis should have used $1.2 million to repay cancer patients’ debt instead of paying a Trump attorney for special access.

The pharmaceutical giant paid $1.2 million to a Trump attorney. Here’s a better idea: repay patients who take Gleevec, a Novartis drug that rose in price from $26,000 in 2001 to $140,000 in 2017, an increase of nearly 440 percent. “My out of pocket for that drug with Medicare Part D insurance has come to, so far, $60,000 and has cut deeply into my retirement money, which is incredibly devastating and scary...I’m going to be in the poor house a lot sooner than I thought,” patient advocate Joan Tramontano told us. Watch Joan talk about the impact of Novartis’ price hikes on her life. — (STAT)

 2. President Trump’s plans to lower drug prices don’t include direct Medicare negotiation

And that’s a shame, though there are positive steps toward transparency in the 50-point plan released Friday. — (AP

3. Will the Administration’s proposals make a difference for patients?

David Mitchell, a cancer patient, and the president of Patients For Affordable Drugs, weighed in on PBS NewsHour. “We got a bunch of singles and we got a couple of whiffs. There are some things in this set of proposals that will save money for some people, especially people on Medicare who are using very high-cost drugs. But the president promised that he would lower list prices. And if you look at the proposal, the shortest part is about lowering list prices, and we really have to get at list prices set by the drug companies if we’re going to drive down prices overall.” — (PBS NewsHour)

4. The impact of a 100,000 percent drug price hike on a small town

After the price of a prescription drug for infants experiencing seizures soared 100,000 percent, the mayor of an Illinois town went looking for answers.— (60 Minutes)

5. Drugs don’t work if people can’t afford them         
            We tend to agree. — (STAT)