prescription drugs

Donors to HHS Nominee Have Stakes in FDA, Medicare Decisions
Trump’s choice is a break from trend of presidents tapping governors and academics

Health and Human Services Secretary designee Tom Price would oversee issues including a major congressional overhaul of rules on how Medicare pays doctors. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Companies and trade groups that have donated to Rep. Tom Price’s campaign funds have major financial stakes in the decisions that he will oversee if confirmed as the next Health and Human Services secretary.

Among the contributors is a maker of placenta-based wound care products that’s in open conflict with a rival over Food and Drug Administration regulations. Based about a dozen miles from the Georgia Republican’s district office, MiMedx Group stands out among Price’s contributors for giving big money relative to its size.

Study: Health Spending Rose 5.8% in 2015
Federal government now the biggest purchaser of medical services

The federal government rose past private households last year to become the nation’s biggest purchaser of health care, due in part to the expansion of the Medicaid program, according to a study released Friday. The findings comes as Republicans prepare plans to scale back the government’s role in securing health care for Americans.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services released the latest figures from the National Health Expenditure survey, which since 1960 has provided annual snapshots of this spending. The total tab for health care in the United States rose by 5.8 percent last year to $3.2 trillion. The federal government’s share of this spending grew at a faster rate than did other major segments, jumping by 8.9 percent last year to $918.5 billion.

FDA Approval Changes Could Affect Drug Prices
Regulators aim for accelerated timeline for completing applications

Upcoming changes to the Food and Drug Administration’s reviews for generic drugs could have an impact on drug prices if they help introduce more competition to the market.

In separate public meetings on Thursday and Friday, FDA officials discussed their plans for renewing the programs that charge generic drugmakers a fee to go through the application process. The FDA has been scrutinized for aspects of its generic approval programs that critics contend prevent cheaper generic therapies from coming to market.

EpiPen Crisis Hitting Senators Close to Home
Klobuchar, Warner among senators with kids with allergies

Virginia Sen. Mark Warner, right, and Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar both have adult daughters who rely on the EpiPen. (CQ Roll Call file photo)

The debate over the cost of EpiPens isn't just politics for some lawmakers.

It's personal.

Democrats: EpiPen Cost Curbing Is PR Move, Not a Fix
Blumenthal calls pharmaceutical company's announcement a "baby step"

Connecticut Sen. Richard Blumenthal has been critical of the skyrocketing cost of the EpiPen. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Some Congressional Democrats are criticizing a pharmaceutical company's effort to curb the rising cost of a drug used to combat severe allergic reactions as a public relations move rather than a solution.

Mylan announced Thursday that it would take steps to reduce the price of its EpiPen drug injector for some customers. The company said it would cover up to $300 of the cost through the use of a savings card, and would increase eligibility for a patient program that reduces costs for uninsured or underinsured patients.

New Biosimilars Highlight Need for FDA Action
Lawmakers are frustrated that so few have hit the market

Texas Rep. Joe L. Barton said he was concerned over the FDA's slow pace in approving new biosimilars. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

An advisory committee to the Food and Drug Administration last week recommended the approval of generic versions of two expensive arthritis drugs, which if approved by the agency could be good news for health care spending and patients burdened by high drug prices.  

But the action served as a reminder that the agency still must issue key guidelines on how to evaluate whether generic drugs in this class are fully interchangeable with their original products.  

Obama to Stump for Anti-Heroin Plan as GOP Resists
Republicans want funds during appropriations process

Sens. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., Patty Murray, D-Wash., Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., and Ed Markey, D-Mass., hold a news conference in February to call for funding to address opioid abuse. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

President Barack Obama on Tuesday will headline a major summit on prescription drug and heroin abuse organized by a powerful House Republican who is trying to convince the party to fund the president's ambitious plan to fight the nationwide epidemic.  

With Republicans raising concerns about what kinds of initiatives Washington should be funding, Obama is expected to devote some of his remarks in Atlanta to press them to act. And, conveniently for Obama, one of the event’s organizers is a lawmaker who helps control the federal pocketbook: House Appropriations Chairman Harold Rogers, R-Ky. The president also is expected to announce a set of administrative actions that will not require congressional approval. A major thrust of the Obama administration and congressional Democrats has been to use federal dollars to help expand treatment for most vulnerable populations.