ICER Weekly View: March 22, 2019

From the desk of David Whitrap

I hope everyone’s March Madness bracket is still relatively intact after yesterday (and I’m sure that won’t be the case next week).

This morning, let’s take a look at:

  • ICER in the News: Our draft assessment of esketamine, new experts joining our independent voting committees, and the revised protocol for our annual assessment on Unsupported Price Increases.
  • Pharmaceutical News: A new CDC survey on the impact of high drug prices on patients, which US states are moving forward with policy proposals around “affordability boards” and drug reimportation, how some organizations with patient-friendly names may have significant conflicts of interest, an FDA approval in postpartum depression, a major setback in Alzheimer’s, and why Canada is now consolidating value assessment with price negotiation.

ICER in the News

Yesterday afternoon, we published our draft evidence report assessing the clinical and economic value of esketamine (Spravato) for treatment-resistant depression. We’ll be accepting public comment on the draft through April 17.

ICER Releases Draft Evidence Report on Esketamine for Treatment-Resistant Depression

Earlier this week, we appointed eight new voting panelists to our independent evidence appraisal councils. The distinguished new panelists bring expertise in a broad range of perspectives, including patient advocacy, health policy, economics, and clinical practice.

ICER Appoints New Members to Each of Its Three Independent Evidence Appraisal Councils

We also issued our revised protocol to guide our annual assessment on Unsupported Price Increases of prescription drugs. In addition to the Top 10 most significant price increases that we plan to assess in 2019, we are now accepting recommendations from the public on up to three more drugs to include in this year’s review.

ICER Publishes Revised Protocol for Assessing Unsupported Price Increases for Prescription Drugs

Pharmaceutical News

This week, the CDC released a survey about how patients currently are dealing with high drug prices. One in five US adults prescribed medicines say they’ve asked their doctor for a cheaper option.

When medicines are unaffordable, here’s how patients cut costs – STAT

O ne in five U.S. adults prescribed medicines say they’ve asked their doctor for a cheaper option, according to a new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Nearly 60 percent of U.S. adults said they’d been prescribed a medication in the past year, the majority of which come with out-of-pocket costs.

As Axios reports, several states have introduced bills that would create new “affordability boards” to rein in spending on prescription drugs that either were launched with high prices or experienced a big price increase.

Some states are pushing to create prescription drug “affordability boards”

These boards could set payment caps for drugs they deem unaffordable.

As an alternative to the affordability boards, some states move forward with proposals around drug reimportation.

States advance efforts to import drugs from Canada, with Florida the latest

A mid the heated debate over the cost of medicines, various state lawmakers are pushing ahead with legislation that would allow Americans to import drugs from Canada.

And as different organizations weigh in on the pros or cons of various health policy options like these, the Associated Press and STAT News each provide different reminders about the importance of recognizing when some of these organizations may have a significant conflict of interest. (NOTE: For those of you who aren’t aware, ICER’s drug assessments are funded exclusively by non-profit foundations, and not by either the pharmaceutical or insurance industries.)

Group with consumer-friendly vibe pushes drugmakers’ message

WASHINGTON (AP) – As ominous music plays in the background, the narrator of a radio ad warns that a Trump administration proposal to apply international pricing to certain Medicare drugs would be a nightmare for seniors.

The pharma-backed group with a lot to say on Trump’s drug rebate pitch

W ASHINGTON – RetireSafe, a Washington-based advocacy group with ties to the drug industry, appears to be behind a deluge of comments on HHS’ controversial proposal to end the current system of rebates used to negotiate the price of drugs.

On the science side, this week the FDA approved the first medicine specifically intended for women with postpartum depression. A single course of therapy, which must be administered via an IV infusion over 30 hours within a hospital or clinic, will have a $34,000 list price.

Sage Therapeutics’ Drug for Postpartum Depression Gets FDA Nod

U.S. health regulators on Tuesday approved Sage Therapeutics Inc.’s Zulresso, the first medication specifically intended for women with postpartum depression.

But unfortunately, we also saw Biogen and Eisai halt Phase 3 studies of their investigational medicine for Alzheimer’s disease, dealing a blow to the companies as well as to everyone’s shared hopes for an effective treatment.

Biogen Shares Skid After Company Ends Alzheimer’s Trials

Biogen lost more than a quarter of its market value after the company and its Japanese partner said they were ending two late-stage trials of a treatment for Alzheimer’s disease.

And finally, we look north of the border, where the Canadian government is planning to set up a new agency to assess the effectiveness of approved medicines and then negotiate prices with drug manufacturers. By establishing a national formulary, the new agency would aim to harmonize drug coverage across the country.

Canada Plans New Agency To Negotiate Drug Prices & Tackle Soaring Costs

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