Wednesday, December 2, 2015

The Senate's Bipartisan Report on Sovaldi Pricing

The week of December 1, there were numerous news reports on a lengthy Senate report on the pricing of Sovaldi.   Many of the press reports don't include links to the original documents.

The Senate's own detailed press release is here.  Note that on this Senate webpage, there are links to 13 separate PDF files running down the right-hand margin.

A two page executive summary is here.   The 144-page main report (excluding numerous online appendices) is here.

The story began with the Senate's public request for extensive pricing information from Gilead almost 18 months ago, in July, 2014 (here).  Washington Post coverage of the December 1 report, here.

The senators ask that the following questions enter the public debate:

1) What are the effects of a breakthrough, single source innovator drug on the marketplace?
2) Do the payers in the programs have adequate information to know the cost, patient volume, and increases in efficacy of a new treatment regimen?
3) What role does the concept of “value” play into this debate, and how should an innovative therapy’s value be represented in its price?
4) What measures might improve price transparency for new higher-cost therapies while maintaining incentives for manufacturers to invest in new drug development?
5) What tools exist, or should exist, to address the impact of high cost drugs and corresponding access restrictions, particularly on low-income populations and state Medicaid programs?
Follow Up Press:

See also a Health Affairs blogs issued December 7, 2015 on "The impact of new hepatitis C drugs on national health spending" - here.

For a December 6 WSJ op ed on the Senate's report, here.

For a December 10 WSJ report on how Pfizer priced an $8K/month drug, here and here or here.

The Senate media splash overshadowed a 39-page GAO report on Medicare Part B drug expenditures for "new drugs" which had appeared just before Thanksgiving, November 20, here.  GAO found...
Expenditures in 2013 for 75 of the 83 new Part B drugs.   Expenditures for these 75 drugs in 2013 were concentrated among 3 drugs—Lucentis, Eylea, and Prolia—which accounted for 53 percent of the $5.9 billion Medicare and its beneficiaries spent on new Part B drugs. The 20 highest-expenditure drugs accounted for 92 percent of 2013 expenditures on new Part B drugs.