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Practice Transformation

The VA pharmacy benefit provides a model for reform to address the crisis in prescription drug affordability, according to a paper published in Health Affairs. The VA model involves a combination of regulation, negotiation and a national formulary; this makes it possible for veterans to obtain medicines with low or no copayment. Those who obtain prescription medications from the VA are less likely than other insured Americans to skip doses or delay filling prescriptions due to cost. VA patients had lower rates of cost-related medication nonadherence—6.1% vs. 10.9% for non-VA patients. Moreover, the VA system appeared to reduce racial and economic disparities in accessing medicines. (Health AffairsSTAT News)
A future in which precision medicine benefits everyone requires the health care industry to take on disparities, according to experts interviewed for a UCSF Magazine article. Otherwise, certain populations could miss out, either because some precision therapies won’t work for them, or because they’ll be unaffordable—“and the gap between the ‘haves’ and ‘have-nots’ will widen,” warns Hala Borno, MD, an oncologist and assistant professor of medicine. The solution? “We have to figure out where to use these precision technologies most effectively, efficiently, and equitably,” says Kathryn Phillips, PhD, professor of clinical pharmacy. (UCSF Magazine)
Of the 30 stocks in the Dow, Walgreens Boots Alliance had the poorest performance in 2019—even lower than Boeing. Among the reasons: concerns over competition from Amazon. Walgreens fell nearly 14%, while the Dow went up 22%. Investor’s Business Daily notes that this drop is despite a Nov. 5 surge on reports that Walgreens had reached out to private equity firms about a deal to take it private. (Investor’s Business DailyThe Street)

Evidence & Innovation

Arthur Hermann, precision medicine fellow at the World Economic Forum, interviewed leaders from every aspect of precision medicine to understand what prevents genetic testing from becoming a standard part of health care. He concludes the science is far ahead of our ability to make full use of genetic information in health care. Two of the themes that emerged: lack of genetic counselors and health insurance coverage. He added he’ll be focusing his fellowship on the Moving Genomics to the Clinic project, which will “will quicken the pace of tackling these barriers so that the use of genetic information can become a standard part of your health care experience.” (World Economic Forum)

Policy Solutions

Nobody expects Congress to pass meaningful legislation this year, but lawmakers are under voter pressure to reach a deal on lowering drug prices. If they do, it will likely be a narrow agreement to cap out-of-pocket costs for Medicare beneficiaries, Bloomberg predicts. And it will be a narrow window for action—two, actually: right after the impeachment trial ends, and in the lame duck session after the election. “Based on exceptionally low expectations, we could be pleasantly surprised,” Jason Grumet of the Bipartisan Policy Center says. (Bloomberg)
Medicare Part B spent $725 million on drugs that ended up being thrown out in 2018, according to CMS data. Ten drugs accounted for 63% of the wasted. Velcade, a chemotherapy drug designed to treat myeloma and mantle cell lymphoma, topped the list: More than 26% of what Medicare paid, or $123 million, was wasted. Infused drugs are more prone to waste because they are more difficult to administer than pills, and some cannot be reused after the vials are opened, according to Axios. (AxiosBecker’s Hospital Review)
February 6, 2020 | 8:30-10:30 am
The Bipartisan Policy Center and the GTMRx Institute will co-host, “Get the Medications Right: Innovations in Team-Based Care.” This event will feature keynote presentations and a panel discussion with leaders—including Katherine Herring Capps, Carolyn Clancy, M.D., Susan Dentzer, M.P.H., Michael Evans, RPh, Elizabeth Fowler, J.D., Ph.D., Anand Parekh, M.D., and Dan Rehrauer, Pharm.D.—who have been at the forefront of advancing the appropriate and personalized use of medication and gene therapies. As an organization that actively fosters bipartisanship by combining the best ideas from both parties to promote health, security and opportunity for all Americans and that prioritizes “getting things done” above all else, the Bipartisan Policy Center offers an ideal venue for this important event.
Seating is limited, so please be sure to register to attend. There will also be a live-stream of the event. You can find more information here.
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