Tag Archives: drug pricing

Former CMS leader discusses vulnerable populations, drug pricing and a health journalist he admires

Liz Seegert

About Liz Seegert

Liz Seegert (@lseegert), is AHCJ’s topic editor on aging. Her work has appeared in NextAvenue.com, Journal of Active Aging, Cancer Today, Kaiser Health News, the Connecticut Health I-Team and other outlets. She is a senior fellow at the Center for Health Policy and Media Engagement at George Washington University and co-produces the HealthCetera podcast.

Donald Berwick

Don Berwick is a former administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) under President Obama. Berwick’s long résumé includes leadership positions at the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, the National Advisory Council of the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, the Institute of Medicine’s Governing Council, the IOM’s Global Health Board, and on President Clinton’s Advisory Commission on Consumer Protection and Quality in the Healthcare Industry. He is president emeritus of the Institute for Healthcare Improvement. He also teaches at Harvard Medical School and is on staff at several major Massachusetts hospitals.

Prior to his keynote address on social determinants of health at the recent Institute for Healthcare Improvement conference in Orlando, Fla., Berwick sat with me to talk about some of today’s most pressing health care issues. [This interview has been edited for clarity and length.] Continue reading

Series explores how pharmacy contracts obscure drug pricing details from consumers

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.

When covering prescription drug pricing, one problem that journalists face is understanding the almost-labyrinthine complexity of the drug supply chain, from manufacturer to consumer.

For one of its first investigations, the young publication Tarbell set out to explain why drug prices are so high. In doing so, Tarbell Editor Randy Barrett describes in great detail the complex world of pharmacy pricing. Continue reading

Reporters struggle to learn the facts after only three get briefing on drug price proposals

Sarah Karlin-Smith

About Sarah Karlin-Smith

Sarah Karlin-Smith (@SarahKarlin) is a health care reporter for Politico, specializing in covering the policy and politics that affect the drug industry, particularly drug pricing regulations. She has spent the past seven years covering health care with a focus on the Food and Drug Administration.

Alex Azar

When newly installed Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar held one of his first meetings with the media on Feb. 8, only three reporters were invited. They got a sneak peek at drug price provisions contained in President Trump’s budget, while other reporters had to wait days to get questions answered.

The topic – tackling the cost of pharmaceuticals – was one of Azar’s signature issues, but he chose to discuss it only with the Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg, and the Daily Caller. Continue reading

Experts share realities behind generic, specialty drug pricing

Loren Bonner

About Loren Bonner

Loren Bonner (@lorenbonner) is a reporter for Pharmacy Today. She has freelanced as a health care writer and multimedia producer, and worked in public radio in New York and Connecticut. Bonner obtained her master’s degree in journalism with a health and medicine concentration from City University of New York Graduate School of Journalism.

Photo: Abby via Flickr

Photo: Abby via Flickr

Health journalists received a few lessons in economics during a discussion last week on some alarming drug trends – largely the result of a broken market – that are threatening patient care and undermining the U.S. health care system.

At a New York City chapter eventPhil Zweig, a longtime financial journalist who also runs a group called Physicians Against Drug Shortages, spoke about the scarcity of generic drugs in hospitals and clinics – a problem that has persisted for years. Hospital group purchasing organizations (GPOs), which are not regulated and essentially negotiate supply purchases for hospitals, have the ability to charge market share to the highest bidder. Zweig said they can do this because the safe harbor provision in the 1987 Medicare anti-kickback law excluded GPOs from criminal prosecution for taking kickbacks from suppliers.

“The more you can pay to a GPO, the more market share you get,” Zweig said.

Because of the exclusive contracts that GPOs award, the number of competitors in the market shrinks, which has led to a shortage of generic prescription drugs – everything from sterile injectables to chemotherapy agents. Continue reading