Trump vows again to lower drug prices but skeptics doubt much will

first_imgMay 11 2018President Donald Trump, armed with the expertise of staff seasoned in the ways of the drug industry, unveiled his blueprint to address sky-high drug prices Friday afternoon, promising that increasing industry competition will help Americans save at the pharmacy counter.”Under this administration, we are putting American patients first,” Trump said  with Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar by his side. Azar, he said, had a mission to “to bring soaring drug prices down to Earth.”Trump said he plans to work with Congress on lowering drug costs. The administration is planning or considering 50 actions to reduce what Americans pay for drugs, including giving Medicare more power to negotiate drug prices, Azar said. Azar said he wants to make drug prices more transparent, as well. For example, he said the Food and Drug Administration should require pharmaceutical companies to disclose drugs’ list prices in their direct-to-consumer ads.”It’s material and relevant to know if it’s a $50,000 drug or a $100 drug,” Azar said at a White House press briefing Friday following Trump’s speech.Trump called the plan “the most sweeping action in history to lower the price of prescription drugs to the American people.””We will have tougher negotiations, more competition and much lower prices at the pharmacy counters,” Trump said. “And it will start to take effect very soon.”On a separate note, Trump told the audience that “right-to-try is happening,” a nod to congressional efforts to expand access to experimental medications for people with life-threatening conditions.Trump’s proposals target reducing the out-of-pocket costs for older Americans enrolled in Medicare — but experts say that amounts to more show than substance.”There’s a difference between reducing the pain people feel associated with out-of-pocket costs at the pharmacy counter and reducing the actual national spend on prescription drugs,” said Allan Coukell, senior director for health programs at the nonpartisan Pew Charitable Trusts.While 80 percent of Americans say the cost of drugs is unreasonable, 1 in 4 people report having difficulty paying for drugs, according to Kaiser Family Foundation polling. So the optics of lowering what people pay directly for drugs is very good, says Dan Mendelson, president of Avalere Health.”There has been a dramatic increase in the number of people bearing a very heavy burden,” said Mendelson, who oversaw the health division at the Office of Management and Budget under Bill Clinton’s presidency. The health consulting firm released data this week showing that the number of seniors spending so much on drugs that they reach the catastrophic stage increased by 50 percent between 2013 and 2016.Although some criticized the blueprint as too generous to drugmakers, a pharmaceutical industry spokesman had a mixed appraisal of Trump’s plan.”While some of these proposals could help make medicines more affordable for patients, others would disrupt coverage and limit patients’ access to innovative treatments,” said Stephen Ubl, CEO of the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA).”After negotiations, medicine prices increased just 1.9 percent last year, below the rate of inflation, and yet patients’ out-of-pocket costs continue to skyrocket,” he said. “Giving patients access to negotiated discounts at the pharmacy counter and protecting seniors in Medicare Part D from catastrophic costs would help make medicines more affordable.”During the campaign and his presidency, Trump has used strong language against the pharmaceutical industry, famously saying the manufacturers are “getting away with murder.” Late Thursday, senior administration officials told reporters on a call that the plan will reduce the price pharmaceutical companies set for drugs.But when asked about whether Medicare will negotiate drugs — as Democrats have called for and the president has talked about — administration officials said that lever would not be pulled.Instead, Trump’s blueprint calls for measures such as offering free generics to low-income seniors, passing on to consumers more of the negotiated savings that insurers win, and making sure Medicare enrollees don’t spiral into the so-called catastrophic phase of coverage they hit when they pay thousands of dollars a year for drugs.Limiting what Medicare patients pay out-of-pocket could be especially helpful to those taking cancer drugs or other expensive therapies, said Stacie Dusetzina, an associate professor of health policy at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine.Today, patients who pay $5,000 out-of-pocket for prescriptions enter the “catastrophic” category of Medicare coverage, and are charged just 5 percent of their drug costs. But given the astronomical cost of cancer drugs, that can leave patients paying $1,000 a month or more, Dusetzina said.Related StoriesMedicare going in ‘right direction’ on opioid epidemicHow cell-free DNA can be targeted to prevent spread of tumorsCancer killing capability of lesser-known immune cells identifiedMedicare patients with the deadly cancer multiple myeloma can spend $14,000 a year out-of-pocket for the drug Revlimid, which costs about $20,000 a month, Dusetzina said.Trump also accused other developed countries of “freeloading” by enjoying the fruits of American innovation — including drugs developed with taxpayer money or by U.S. companies — without paying a fair price. Because national health systems in other countries have authority to negotiate drug costs — and refuse to cover some drugs entirely — their citizens often pay a fraction of the prices charged in the United States.”In some cases, medicines that cost a few dollars in foreign countries cost hundreds of dollars for the same pill” in the United States, Trump said. “It’s unfair, it’s ridiculous and it’s not going to happen any longer. It’s time to end the global freeloading once and for all.”A spokesman for Doctors Without Borders said Trump has it backward. Instead of raising drug prices abroad, costs need to come down everywhere, said Leonardo Palumbo, U.S. advocacy adviser for the group’s access campaign.”Other countries aren’t ‘free-riding,’ and lifesaving medicines aren’t more expensive here because they cost less elsewhere,” Palumbo said. He said his group “sees the detrimental effects of high prices — from doctors being left without antibiotics to treat people with drug-resistant infections, to hepatitis C medicines being rationed to the sickest patients because of their exorbitant prices.”Today, Medicare has limited power to negotiate drug prices, partly because many of the most expensive treatments — such as those for cancer patients — are in a protected class that must be covered, Dusetzina said.To really negotiate better prices, Medicare would need the freedom to reject some drugs completely, Dusetzina added.But excluding certain expensive drugs from the Medicare program could leave patients in a difficult position, said Chris Hansen, president of the American Cancer Society’s Cancer Action Network. Patients who want an expensive drug would either have to skip it or pay for it themselves, he said.Azar said Medicare could pressure drug companies to keep prices down in other ways.”In our drug discount program, if you have a drug in a protected class, it’s almost impossible for drug plans to negotiate and get a discount,” Azar said. “What if we said you only get to be in a protected class if you haven’t raised your price in 18 months?”Some policy experts said Trump’s announcement includes mostly old ideas.”I don’t think anyone is talking seriously about having Medicare negotiate with drugmakers,” said Tom Bulleit, head of the health care practice at the D.C. office of Ropes & Gray.Rep. Peter Welch (D-Vt.), who along with Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) met with Trump at the White House a year ago to propose changes on drug prices, said, “If you listen carefully, you can almost hear the champagne popping in the corporate boardrooms of drug companies across the country.”David Maris, a pharmaceutical industry analyst for Wells Fargo investors, released a note earlier this month pointing out that the increased social and economic tension on the drug industry is building.”My guess is this is just the beginning,” Maris said.Trump’s plan includes tackling the rising costs of drugs in Medicare’s Part B program, which pays for drugs delivered in doctor’s offices or hospital outpatient setting — a challenge previous administrations have failed to tackle.While the details are still vague, Trump has called for the prices paid for certain drugs under Part B — these could include expensive drugs for cancer chemotherapy and rheumatoid arthritis — to be negotiated using the same tactics insurers and pharmacy benefit managers use under Medicare Part D, which is the program that seniors use for their retail prescription drugs.KHN’s coverage of prescription drug development, costs and pricing is supported by the Laura and John Arnold Foundation. This article was reprinted from khn.org with permission from the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. Kaiser Health News, an editorially independent news service, is a program of the Kaiser Family Foundation, a nonpartisan health care policy research organization unaffiliated with Kaiser Permanente.last_img read more

Male gorillas who babysit have five times more babies

first_imgIt turns out the way to a mom’s heart is through her offspring, according to the new analysis, published today in Nature Scientific Reports. Genetic paternity data for 23 adult males and 109 infants, along with 10 to 38 hours of observations for each male gorilla, suggest the more time these “babysitters” spend with infants, the more reproductive success they will have. The findings could even have implications for the evolution of paternal care in humans, given that we are the only other ape species whose males are willing to help out with the kids. Country * Afghanistan Aland Islands Albania Algeria Andorra Angola Anguilla Antarctica Antigua and Barbuda Argentina Armenia Aruba Australia Austria Azerbaijan Bahamas Bahrain Bangladesh Barbados Belarus Belgium Belize Benin Bermuda Bhutan Bolivia, Plurinational State of Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba Bosnia and Herzegovina Botswana Bouvet Island Brazil British Indian Ocean Territory Brunei Darussalam Bulgaria Burkina Faso Burundi Cambodia Cameroon Canada Cape Verde Cayman Islands Central African Republic Chad Chile China Christmas Island Cocos (Keeling) Islands Colombia Comoros Congo Congo, the Democratic Republic of the Cook Islands Costa Rica Cote d’Ivoire Croatia Cuba Curaçao Cyprus Czech Republic Denmark Djibouti Dominica Dominican Republic Ecuador Egypt El Salvador Equatorial Guinea Eritrea Estonia Ethiopia Falkland Islands (Malvinas) Faroe Islands Fiji Finland France French Guiana French Polynesia French Southern Territories Gabon Gambia Georgia Germany Ghana Gibraltar Greece Greenland Grenada Guadeloupe Guatemala Guernsey Guinea Guinea-Bissau Guyana Haiti Heard Island and McDonald Islands Holy See (Vatican City State) Honduras Hungary Iceland India Indonesia Iran, Islamic Republic of Iraq Ireland Isle of Man Israel Italy Jamaica Japan Jersey Jordan Kazakhstan Kenya Kiribati Korea, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Republic of Kuwait Kyrgyzstan Lao People’s Democratic Republic Latvia Lebanon Lesotho Liberia Libyan Arab Jamahiriya Liechtenstein Lithuania Luxembourg Macao Macedonia, the former Yugoslav Republic of Madagascar Malawi Malaysia Maldives Mali Malta Martinique Mauritania Mauritius Mayotte Mexico Moldova, Republic of Monaco Mongolia Montenegro Montserrat Morocco Mozambique Myanmar Namibia Nauru Nepal Netherlands New Caledonia New Zealand Nicaragua Niger Nigeria Niue Norfolk Island Norway Oman Pakistan Palestine Panama Papua New Guinea Paraguay Peru Philippines Pitcairn Poland Portugal Qatar Reunion Romania Russian Federation Rwanda Saint Barthélemy Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha Saint Kitts and Nevis Saint Lucia Saint Martin (French part) Saint Pierre and Miquelon Saint Vincent and the Grenadines Samoa San Marino Sao Tome and Principe Saudi Arabia Senegal Serbia Seychelles Sierra Leone Singapore Sint Maarten (Dutch part) Slovakia Slovenia Solomon Islands Somalia South Africa South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands South Sudan Spain Sri Lanka Sudan Suriname Svalbard and Jan Mayen Swaziland Sweden Switzerland Syrian Arab Republic Taiwan Tajikistan Tanzania, United Republic of Thailand Timor-Leste Togo Tokelau Tonga Trinidad and Tobago Tunisia Turkey Turkmenistan Turks and Caicos Islands Tuvalu Uganda Ukraine United Arab Emirates United Kingdom United States Uruguay Uzbekistan Vanuatu Venezuela, Bolivarian Republic of Vietnam Virgin Islands, British Wallis and Futuna Western Sahara Yemen Zambia Zimbabwe When it comes to gorillas, the males who help females out with their infants get benefits. The benefits? More babies. A new study of male gorillas in the wild in Rwanda has found that those who spend the most time grooming infants and resting with them—others’ offspring as well as their own—have about five times more offspring than males who don’t help out with the little ones.This is surprising, scientists say, because male caretaking isn’t usually considered a smart reproductive strategy in primate species where access to females is intensely competitive. Instead, researchers thought the most successful strategy for males would be to put more time and energy into outcompeting other males for a mate, as chimps do.That strategy still works for many male gorillas, who dominate small harems of females. But in 40% of the groups of mountain gorillas studied at the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund’s Karisoke Research Center in Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda there is more than one male in a group, sometimes as many as nine. And those males need to be resourceful to get a female’s attention. Male gorillas who babysit have five times more babies By Ann GibbonsOct. 15, 2018 , 5:00 AMcenter_img Click to view the privacy policy. Required fields are indicated by an asterisk (*) Email Sign up for our daily newsletter Get more great content like this delivered right to you! Countrylast_img read more