Tag Archives: pharmaceutical industry

When reporting on efforts to reduce drug prices, be skeptical and follow the money

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.

The Trump administration has been talking tough on drug prices for many months and, of course, pharmaceutical companies and other organizations have pushed back because they mostly oppose controls on the free market for prescription drugs.

For health care journalists covering these proposals, it’s essential to remain skeptical of any group that offers support or opposition and, as always, follow the money. Continue reading

Webcast to feature author of book on rampant fraud in the generic drug industry

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.

Investigative journalist Katherine Eban will discuss her new book documenting rampant fraud in the generic drug industry during an AHCJ webcast on Wednesday, June 19.

In her book, “Bottle of Lies: The Inside Story of the Generic Drug Boom,” Eban reveals how generic drug makers not only help ensure that some of the worst quality drugs enter the least regulated markets but also take extreme measures to avoid regulatory scrutiny. Harper Collins/Ecco’s Hardcover division published the book on May 14. Continue reading

Do you have all the evidence on a drug that you’re reporting about?

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.

Photo: Esther Dyson via Flickr

The registration and reporting requirements of Clinicaltrials.gov are vital to informing the evidence base – but only if study sponsors actually use it and keep entries updated. A recent research letter in JAMA Internal Medicine suggests this is not happening often enough. That’s helpful for journalists to know if they are attempting to find all the recent evidence on a particular drug or intervention.

“Missing or incomplete reporting of clinical trial results and its scientific and ethical consequences are well documented,” wrote Kevin M. Fain, J.D., M.P.H., Dr.PH, and his team at the National Institutes of Health.

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

D.C. journalists gather, meet with pharmaceutical representatives

Phil Galewitz

About Phil Galewitz

Phil Galewitz (@philgalewitz), is a senior correspondent at Kaiser Health News covering Medicaid, Medicare, long-term care, hospitals and state health issues. He is a former member of AHCJ's board of directors.

Photo: Phil Galewitz/Kaiser Health NewsWashington, D.C., health journalists got together to catch up and make contact with communications official from several pharmaceutical companies on March 18.

Photo: Phil Galewitz/Kaiser Health NewsWashington, D.C., health journalists got together to catch up and make contact with communications official from several pharmaceutical companies on March 18.

About 25 journalists gathered on March 18 at Bistro d’Oc in Washington, D.C.,  for an AHCJ chapter happy hours event with top communications officials with PhRMA and several of its member pharmaceutical companies.

Photo: Phil Galewitz/Kaiser Health NewsJulie Appleby (left), of Kaiser Health News, and  Laurie McGinley, of The Washington Post, with a representative of Bristol-Myers Squibb at the Washington, D.C., AHCJ chapter event on March 18.

Photo: Phil Galewitz/Kaiser Health NewsJulie Appleby (left), of Kaiser Health News, and Laurie McGinley, of The Washington Post, with a representative of Bristol-Myers Squibb at the Washington, D.C., AHCJ chapter event on March 18.

There was no formal program, just a chance to meet PhrMA officials and representatives of companies that included Novo Nordisk, GlaxoSmithKline and Bristol-Myers Squibb.

Journalists from The Washington Post, Kaiser Health News, Politico, U.S. News & World Reports and Inside Health Policy were among those in attendance. AHCJ helped cover costs for journalists, who were asked for a voluntary $10 to defray expenses.

The event marked the third D.C. chapter event since December. For more info on  D.C. chapter events, contact Phil Galewitz at pgalewitz@kff.org.

Photo: Phil Galewitz/Kaiser Health NewsJulie Appleby and Mary Agnes Carey, both of Kaiser Health News, and Laurie McGinley, of The Washington Post, (left to right) were among the journalists who attended the March 18 AHCJ chapter event.

Photo: Phil Galewitz/Kaiser Health NewsJulie Appleby and Mary Agnes Carey, both of Kaiser Health News, and Laurie McGinley, of The Washington Post, (left to right) were among the journalists who attended the March 18 AHCJ chapter event.

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