Congress and the Trump administration are riled up about pharma prices and promising to drive them down, but a new U.S. government report shows growth in retail drug spending screeched to a halt in 2017.
The data, released by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services Thursday, show growth in spending on pharmacy-dispensed drugs slowed to 0.4% last year, down sharply from 2.3% in 2016—and even more sharply from the increases in 2015 and 2014, CMS reported. Drug costs for those years grew 8.9% and 12.4%, respectively.
Why the slowdown? For one thing, drugmakers pushed through lower price hikes, CMS said. Prescription growth also slowed, while more patients started on generics and generic prices dropped, the agency said.
The new CMS data hit as drug prices continue to occupy center stage in Washington. After years of scrutiny on pharma’s pricing practices—and annual increases in prices and costs—Congress and the Trump administration have made the issue a priority. The FDA is approving generics at a record pace and prioritizing applications for drugs with little to no competition. The administration is working to force drugmakers to include prices in TV ads and lower certain U.S. prices closer to international levels, among a slew of other proposals.
Meanwhile, uncomfortable in the spotlight, many drugmakers have pumped the brakes on price hikes. Pfizer, for instance, raised prices this summer but backpedaled—at least temporarily—after the president slammed the company on Twitter. Trump tweeted that Pfizer “should be ashamed” about the move, and the company decided to defer price hikes. It now appears ready to raise them again in early 2019.
During the Pfizer controversy, other large drugmakers such as Novartis and Roche said they wouldn’t raise prices again in 2018.
By Eric Sagonowsky
Source: Fierce Pharma
Sun Pharmaceutical Industries has signed a definitive agreement to buy all outstanding shares of Concert Pharmaceuticals in a deal valued at $576m. Under the deal, the company will buy all shares of Concert common stock through a tender offer for $8.00 per share in cash upfront payment.
The Food and Drug Administration on Thursday approved Novo Nordisk’s diabetes pill Rybelsus as an initial treatment to lower blood sugar levels, a label expansion that will allow it to compete more directly with other oral drugs from Merck & Co. and Eli Lilly.
Since making an ill-advised $63 billion buy of Monsanto in 2018, Bayer has faced heaps of pressure from investors that have called for the company to oust its leadership and to restructure. Now comes new pressure from a familiar source. Bluebell Capital Partners has bought an undisclosed stake in the company and is agitating for a breakup, sources told Reuters.