Category Archives: Pharmaceuticals

Senators push CMS on containing prescription drug costs

Liz Seegert

About Liz Seegert

Liz Seegert (@lseegert), is AHCJ’s topic editor on aging. Her work has appeared in Kaiser Health News, The Atlantic.com, New America Media, AARP.com, Practical Diabetology and Home Care Technology report. She is a senior fellow at the Center for Health, Media & Policy at Hunter College in New York City, and co-produces HealthStyles for WBAI-FM/Pacifica Radio.

pills-and-moneyIn an effort to help consumers get a better handle on drug prices, five U.S. senators — all Democrats — are pressuring the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services to be more forthcoming about efforts to contain costs and help seniors cope with the high costs of prescription drugs.

Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-Va.), Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.), Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.), and Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) cosigned a letter on Dec. 17 to CMS Acting Administrator Andrew Slavitt, seeking more information on the agency’s efforts to maximize the agency’s existing authorities on prescription drug costs. Continue reading

ACA limits Medicare’s use of key value metric for drug prices

Joseph Burns

About Joseph Burns

Joseph Burns (@jburns18), a Massachusetts-based independent journalist, is AHCJ’s topic leader on health insurance. He welcomes questions and suggestions on insurance resources and tip sheets at joseph@healthjournalism.org.

Health insurers are trying a wide variety of methods to link drug costs to the value medications deliver to patients. Value-based payment strategies bear watching for two reasons. First, they are aimed at controlling the high costs of prescription medications, and, second, they could usher in new ways of pricing all medications.

The idea that insurers should link a drug’s value to price is not new, but it is gaining traction, at least among private health plans. One proposal calls for paying for drugs based on the quality-adjusted life year, or QALY, a measure used to quantify the value of treatment. Continue reading

Stat details failure of research institutions to submit required study reports

Pia Christensen

About Pia Christensen

Pia Christensen (@AHCJ_Pia) is the managing editor/online services for AHCJ. She manages the content and development of healthjournalism.org, coordinates social media efforts of AHCJ and assists with the editing and production of association guides, programs and newsletters.

Photo: Lydia Polimeni, National Institutes of Health via Flickr

Photo: Lydia Polimeni, National Institutes of Health via Flickr

A Stat investigation has found that “prestigious medical research institutions have flagrantly violated a federal law requiring public reporting of study results, depriving patients and doctors of complete data to gauge the safety and benefits of treatments.”

The violations have left gaping holes in a federal database used by millions of patients, their relatives, and medical professionals, often to compare the effectiveness and side effects of treatments for deadly diseases such as advanced breast cancer.

Continue reading

Communicating drug risks in pharma marketing: A new FDA challenge

Tara Haelle

About Tara Haelle

Tara Haelle (@TaraHaelle) is AHCJ's medical studies core topic leader, guiding journalists through the jargon-filled shorthand of science and research and enabling them to translate the evidence into accurate information.

pill bottle label

Photo: Joel Rorabaugh via FreeImages.com

Many American consumers may not realize this, but only New Zealand and the United States are the only countries with strong pharmaceutical regulations in which direct-to-consumer advertising from pharma companies is allowed.

All those TV commercials and double-spread ads for prescription drugs – whether it’s for erectile dysfunction drugs or mental disorders or high blood pressure or some chronic condition – are missing from the media in most of the world.

The way such ads look and sound (including the usual mind-numbing text block tucked into a print ad detailing risks and potential side effects, or a hastily spoken voice-over toward the end of a commercial), may soon change. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is revising regulations governing how companies communicate risk to consumers. Continue reading

Eight-part series on hepatitis C finds unique moment in an epidemic

Pia Christensen

About Pia Christensen

Pia Christensen (@AHCJ_Pia) is the managing editor/online services for AHCJ. She manages the content and development of healthjournalism.org, coordinates social media efforts of AHCJ and assists with the editing and production of association guides, programs and newsletters.

Kristin Espeland Gourlay

Kristin Espeland Gourlay

While working on a documentary about opioid addiction, Kristin Espeland Gourlay, the health care reporter for Rhode Island Public Radio, discovered there was another story waiting to be covered: hepatitis C.

She writes that new drugs had hit the market with reported cure rates of 95 percent or more, but they cost upwards of $90,000 for a full course. She found that the arrival of these new drugs coincides with another trend: Millions of baby boomers who contracted the disease decades ago are just now showing up in doctors’ offices and emergency rooms, sick with something most didn’t know they had.

Photo: Pia Christensen/AHCJ

Photo: Pia Christensen/AHCJ

Add to that a wave of new infections, spreading among younger injection drug users – people who got hooked on opioids and then turned to heroin – and she found that it was a unique moment in the history of an epidemic.

In this AHCJ article, she shares what she learned, what sources she used, as well as a list of potential story ideas. As she points out, this epidemic will impact many lives but also state budgets.

Read how she did her reporting and what she learned.