ICER Weekly View: August 2, 2019

From the desk of David Whitrap

Good morning everyone. For ICER’s 2019 Visiting Fellows Program, we invited top health economists from around the world — including Karl Claxton, PhD, MSc, from the University of York; Jens Grueger, PhD, President-elect of the International Society for Pharmacoeconomic Outcomes Research (ISPOR); Sean Sullivan, PhD, MS, from the University of Washington; and Chris McCabe, PhD, MSc, from the University of Alberta — to enhance our thinking around appropriate cost-effectiveness thresholds for the U.S. health care system. If you haven’t yet had a chance to watch our ongoing webinar series with these thought leaders, do yourself a favor and check it out.

Other than that, this week we’ll take a look at:

  • ICER’s work being used to expand patient access, why Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders think important drugs from Canada is a quick fix to US drug pricing dysfunction, Pfizer eyes Mylan’s generic business, and how CRISPR is now being used to treat genetic disorders.

Pharmaceutical News

The drug lobby likes to perpetuate fears that ICER’s work hypothetically could be used to limit patient access to an overpriced drug. However, the reality is that we’re increasingly seeing examples of our work being used to broaden patient access to high-value care. Just this week, Amarin stated in its 2Q earnings press release that the drugmaker plans to use ICER’s favorable assessment “in negotiations with payers seeking expanded Vascepa insurance coverage.”

Amarin Reports Second Quarter 2019
Financial Results and Operational Update

The Trump administration said Wednesday it will create a way for Americans to legally and safely import lower-cost prescription drugs from Canada for the first time, reversing years of refusals by health authorities amid a public outcry over high prices for life-sustaining medications.

US to set up plan allowing
prescription meds from Canada

(The Associated Press)

Also this week, Bernie Sanders traveled to Canada with 13 Americans that have diabetes to begin a discussion on why the price of insulin in Canada is at least 10 times less than it is in the United States.

Bernie Sanders goes to Canada
to make a point about drug prices

(CBS News)

Shortly after the Sanders campaign went to Canada, the New York attorney general’s office issued subpoenas to three insulin manufacturers to delve into their pricing strategies.

New York attorney general probes
big three insulin makers over their pricing

(STAT News)

California Attorney General Xavier Becerra on Monday announced four settlement agreements with three major drug companies. The firms will pay $70 million to the state to resolve claims that they illegally engaged in so-called “pay for delay” practices — when pharmaceutical companies pay generic drugmakers to delay entering the market with cheaper versions of branded drugs in order to maintain a monopoly. 

California to receive $70 million from drug companies
accused of illegally delaying cheaper generics

(The San Francisco Chronicle)

Others attorneys general in more than 40 states accused three pharmaceutical companies that make clomipramine of conspiring to raise the drug’s price in concert. The allegation is part of a sweeping lawsuit that names 20 generic drugmakers and subsidiaries in all, as well as 15 current and former industry executives. It says they communicated with one another to fix prices and divvy up customers for more than 100 drugs, treating a range of maladies from HIV to high blood pressure to fungal infections.

Drugmakers’ Alleged Price-Fixing
Pushed a Needed Pill Out of Reach


A deal to merge Pfizer’s off-patent drugs business with generic drugmaker Mylan caps new Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla’s remodeling of one of the world’s biggest pharmaceutical companies. 

Mylan Deal Furthers Pfizer CEO’s
Bet on Patent-Protected Drugs

(The Wall Street Journal)

The Trump administration issued an executive order to hospitals to provide a list of prices negotiated for every insurer for every service and drug supplied to patients by Jan 1, 2020. However, the measure may be difficult to implement, and hospitals will likely band together with insurers to fight the policy.

Trump Team’s Bid To Make Hospital Costs
More Transparent Is Data-Heavy


Congress continues to debate changes to the tax deduction on prescription drug advertising. Rolling back this deduction could make drug ads more expensive (and potentially less frequent).

Deja vu? Pharma ad tax deduction
faces threats—again—in Congress, on the trail


Victoria Gray, a patient with sickle cell disease, will be the first individual whose bone marrow will be genetically modified by CRISPR.

In A 1st, Doctors In U.S. Use CRISPR Tool
To Treat Patient With Genetic Disorder



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