News briefs of interests to pharmacists: WV in the mix

According to a The Washington Post as drug prices have soared, lawmakers and patient advocates have pushed the federal government to deploy for the first time a powerful deterrent: a legal provision that allows it to suspend a drugmaker’s patent and license someone else to produce the drug.

Bob Stessman, owner of the Manning Pharmacy in Iowa told U. S. Senator Chuck Grassley that pharmacy benefit managers are the driving force behind drug price hikes and more is needed to be done to prevent their questionable business practices. Grassley said he is already using his position as chairman of the Senate Finance Committee to investigate this issue.

According to Grassley, the intent of that legislation is for more transparency on how drugs are priced.

CMS announced Thursday that it will allow exchange plans to stop allowing copay coupons from drug makers to count toward enrollees’ out-of-pocket maximums when generic equivalents are available. The proposal is at odds with approaches taken by state legislatures in West Virginia and Virginia this year, which banned plans sold on individual markets from using copay accumulators.

The Trump administration is launching a $350 million opioid-addiction research and treatment initiative to reduce opioid-overdose deaths by a goal of 40 in communities in four particular hard-hit states. The project will focus on as many as 60 towns in Kentucky, Massachusetts, New York and Ohio. These locales will benefit from treatment options like the addiction antidote naloxone, enhanced law enforcement and substance-abuse counseling resources.

The federal government estimates the number of U.S. deaths by opioid overdose reached 47,000 cases in 2017.

Earlier this week, federal prosecutors charged scores of doctors, nurses, pharmacists and other medical personnel with various schemes to distribute addictive pain pills, in what the Justice Department described as the “largest prescription opioid enforcement effort ever undertaken.”

The government said the charges covers 350,000 illegal prescriptions written in Kentucky, Alabama, Ohio, Tennessee and West Virginia. The charges names 31 doctors, seven pharmacists, eight nurses and otheers in the medical profession has having participated in the knowingly providing addictive drugs to vulnerable patients.