In an attempt to lower drug prices, CMS released a proposed rule last week to reduce payments for new drugs under the Part B program. CMS has proposed that effective January 1, 2019, for new drugs and biologicals that are currently reimbursed utilizing the wholesale acquisition cost (“WAC”) of the drug or biological plus 6 percent, will instead receive a reduced add-on payment of 3 percent. Because the change is limited to new drugs that are largely expensive, physician-administered, and infused or injected, such as chemotherapy and rheumatoid arthritis treatments, the financial impact of the proposed reduction could be significant.

Continue Reading CMS Proposes to Reduce Payments for New Drugs under Medicare Part B

On July 18, 2018, after months of alluding to the various aspects of an upcoming “Biosimilar Action Plan” as another prong within FDA’s broader Drug Competition Action Plan (DCAP), FDA finally unveiled its plan for stimulating and improving the marketplace for biosimilars in the U.S. The newly released Biosimilar Action Plan (BAP) is a 9-page, easy-to-read document. As Commissioner Gottlieb indicated in his statement about the release, the BAP is “is aimed at promoting competition and affordability across the market for biologics and biosimilar products.”

As we’ve previously discussed on this blog (see here, here, and here), the Food and Drug Administration under Commissioner Scott Gottlieb has been at the forefront of efforts to “Tackle Drug Competition to Improve Patient Access” – as per a June 27, 2017 FDA press release related to Dr. Gottlieb’s multi-pronged DCAP. In the absence of direct authority over pricing-related issues, as the Commissioner regularly mentions in his public appearances, Dr. Gottlieb and his leadership team nonetheless have demonstrated creativity and commitment towards improving various FDA-related bottlenecks for drugs and biologics – for players in both the innovator and follow-on product environments.  Continue Reading FDA’s New Biosimilar Action Plan Represents the Next Step for Improving Drug Competition

It seems like every week, there are multiple new developments in the 340B program.  While it has just been a few weeks since my last 340B blog post, since that time we have had another Senate hearing, a new GAO Report, a new House hearing, and introduction of more than a dozen new bills in Congress.  But why, despite all these developments, does it feels like little has actually changed in the 340B world since January?  Continue Reading July 2018: Where Are We Now With 340B?

In a highly anticipated step, which had been teased by agency leadership in their public appearances over the past several months, FDA released a series of draft guidance documents pertaining to the development and approval of gene therapy products on July 11, 2018. As a follow up to its milestone gene therapy product approvals in 2017 (see here and here), FDA had promised to develop gene therapy-specific guidelines to help spur innovation in this area by providing industry with useful advice and greater regulatory clarity. However, it’s fair to say that we were not expecting to see this large of a transparency commitment by the Agency, which concurrently issued six new guidance documents. FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb also issued a lengthy same-day statement on the Agency’s “efforts to advance development of gene therapies,” in which he stated in part: Continue Reading FDA Releases Series of Gene Therapy Guidance Documents: From Drug Development to Postmarket Monitoring

A lot has happened since we last addressed new biosimilar developments in January 2018. In the intervening months, there have been many significant developments related to FDA’s implementation of an efficient regulatory program for biosimilar products and the abbreviated BLA (aBLA) review process. Today we’re going to recap some of what has transpired over the past 5 months in the biosimilars space in an attempt to get our readers caught up. Continue Reading Biosimilars in the Limelight – A Lot Has Happened Since January 2018

It has been a few weeks since the publication of the Trump Administration’s Blueprint to Lower Drug Prices, and Secretary Azar’s  Request for Information (RFI) on the Blueprint.  We previously posted about the Blueprint’s focus on the 340B Drug Discount Program.

Many have speculated about the possible changes in store for Medicare under the Blueprint, especially the potential changes to Medicare Parts B and D.  But what about Medicaid?  Unlike Medicare, the federal government does not have exclusive authority to impose operational changes in Medicaid, because of the role of the individual states (and DC) in administering their own Medicaid Programs.  What do the Blueprint and RFI say about Medicaid, and what are the potential implications? Continue Reading A Deeper Dive: What the Trump Administration Blueprint to Lower Drug Prices Might Mean for Medicaid

This week the Senate Finance Committee will mark up its opioid package. Additionally, the HELP Committee will hear from Secretary Azar on the Administration’s effort to lower prescription drug prices. For our complete review and what else to watch for this week, click here.

States may be starting to take aim at prescription automatic refill programs. Automatic refill programs have been proven to increase patient adherence, especially among patients with chronic conditions. However, these programs are not popular among regulators: Medicare Part D and several state boards of pharmacy have prohibited these programs for mail order pharmacies and an increasing number of state Medicaid programs are prohibiting automatic refill programs for both mail and retail pharmacies. Regulators argue that automatic refill programs result in waste to the system, stockpiling, and federal program payment for unneeded prescriptions.

Last week, Wal-Mart and Sam’s Club paid $825,000 to the Minnesota Attorney General and the Department of Justice to settle allegations that they violated the False Claims Act and Minnesota False Claims Act by automatically refilling prescriptions and billing Medicaid without a specific authorization from the patient. These alleged violations appear to be for prescriptions filled at both retail and mail. Continue Reading The Hazards of Prescription Auto-Refill Programs

Late last month, Senators Grassley (R-IA), Brown (D-OH), and Blumenthal (D-CT) introduced the Fighting the Opioid Epidemic with Sunshine Act, a bill that would expand Physician Payment Sunshine Act reporting requirements to cover payments and other transfers of value made to advance practice nurses and physician assistants. As indicated in Senator Grassley’s announcement of the bill, the Senators are tying the expansion of the Sunshine Act to addressing the opioid epidemic.  Applicable manufacturers who are required to report Sunshine Act data through the Open Payments system should follow this bill.  As Congress continues to consider opioid issues, this bill could be included in a broader package of legislation. Continue Reading New Bill Would Expand the Sunshine Act to Cover Physician Assistants and Advance Practice Nurses

Recently the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) issued a statement that it had intervened in a False Claims Act (FCA) case against Insys Therapeutics, Inc. and consolidated five separate qui tam cases into one case, U.S. ex rel Guzman v. Insys Therapeutics, Inc., filed in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California. The complaint revealed that multiple states—California, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Louisiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, Nevada, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, and Washington—as well as the District of Columbia, have also joined the case.

Continue Reading DOJ Continues Aggressive Enforcement Action Against Opioid Manufacturers