Issues

Last week, President Joe Biden emphasized the importance of the drug pricing proposals in the Democrats' roughly $2 trillion Build Back Better spending package. "I think it's safe to say that all of us, all of us, whatever our age, wherever we live, we can agree that prescription drugs are outrageously expensive in this country," Biden said. "Under my Build Back Better bill, which has passed the House of Representatives, it won't be the same way." Build Back Better would make significant changes to drug pricing...

Good public health policy is welcome, even when long delayed. So we should cheer the Biden administration's announcement earlier this month that Covid-19 rapid-result antigen tests (RATs), which tell you in as little as 15 minutes whether you're infected, will be covered by private insurance. For uninsured Americans, the government would make 50 million free tests available, to be distributed through health clinics and other sites in rural and underserved communities. Assuming that they can detect the new Omicron variant along with...

Using the ruse of “price negotiation”, the proponents of the Build Back Better legislation are pushing an ill-fated drug price control plan. Patients will bear exceptionally large costs should their idea of government-directed prices become law. These costs will include lower health outcomes due to reduced access to innovative drugs. They will also include increases in other types of healthcare spending as less drug access would, ironically, increase hospitalizations and use of other healthcare services and could more than offset any...

In the midst of the Covid-19 crisis, there's some good news on the health care front. Cancer mortality rates are declining in the United States, according to a recent report from the National Cancer Institute. Sadly, patients in other countries may not be so lucky. Though the United States has a higher incidence of cancer, other wealthy nations report worse outcomes in terms of recovery and survival. This points to the effectiveness of American health care and reveals the flaws in other...

Earlier this month, President Joe Biden unveiled a plan to make at-home COVID-19 tests free for people with private insurance. They'll have to pay for the tests first, then submit receipts to their insurer to get reimbursed. Only the government could come up with a plan so unnecessarily complicated. The Biden administration defended the overly bureaucratic policy on the grounds of cost. But bureaucracy is one of the main reasons at-home tests have been so difficult to find in the first place. As...

The Center for Biosimilars® interviewed Wayne Winegarden, PhD, senior fellow in business and economics at Pacific Research Institute (PRI) and director of PRI’s Center for Medical Economics and Innovation. Winegarden said that because of the high costs associated with Humira (reference adalimumab) and Enbrel (reference etanercept), biosimilars of these agents are needed to establish a competitive marketplace and to drive down costs. He said the long exclusivity periods that the makers of Humira and Enbrel have secured must end to allow greater affordability;...

Dr. Henry Miller and John Batchelor breakdown the latest developments of Omicron, a new variant of the coronavirus that was recently detected in South Africa. Miller talks about the latest information regarding infections, vaccine efficacy, and how countries are responding to the news. ...

Several hospitals in New Mexico activated crisis standards of care last month in response to a surge in COVID-19 patients. Earlier this fall, Alaska and Idaho did the same. In some places, providers were forced to begin rationing treatment based on the likelihood of survival. It was a shocking spectacle for many Americans, accustomed as we are to hospitals with enough beds, equipment, and doctors to go around. It only took 22 months of an unprecedented pandemic for the healthcare system in...

Is the United States on the cusp of a new wave of COVID-19 devastation, thanks to the omicron variant? The Biden administration has banned travel to the United States from eight countries in southern Africa. Public officials nationwide are calling for vigilance and caution — and for people to get vaccinated or boosted. Omicron certainly merits watching. But our leaders must not overreact by turning back to lockdowns, forced closures, and curbs on gatherings because they feel the need to do something. The consensus among many scientists...

This month, Delta Airlines began levying a $200 monthly surcharge on unvaccinated employees enrolled in the company’s health plan for the financial “risk” they are supposedly imposing on the company. The airliner is not alone. A major health-care system in Louisiana plans to do the same for unvaccinated spouses on its health plan next year. And a retailer in Utah announced last month that unvaccinated employees would have to pay extra for insurance. In other words, medical underwriting — the practice of...

Earlier this month, the Biden administration bought 10 million courses of Pfizer's new COVID-19 pill, Paxlovid. Thanks to the Food and Drug Administration, however, it may be months before anyone can take it, as the agency hasn't yet offered up a timetable for approving it. Its inaction will almost certainly result in scores of preventable deaths. In clinical trials, Paxlovid proved nearly 90% effective at preventing hospitalization and death. The results were so promising, Pfizer ended its trial of the drug early. It would have been...

Millions of Americans may soon be able to hear a bit easier. The Food and Drug Administration just announced a new rule that would permit over-the-counter sales of hearing aids. Regulators are soliciting comments from the public. This move to liberalize the market for hearing aids is an unmitigated piece of good news. It recognizes that patients should have greater control over the care they receive, and it promises to increase competition in the market for hearing aids, saving consumers money...

An overwhelming consensus on any topic is very rare these days. But many Americans, whatever their political leanings, seem to feel that the policies, communications, and actions of the public health "experts" and politicians about the COVID-19 pandemic have been confusing, sometimes contradictory, and in some cases, inconsistent with the scientific evidence. Whether it was flip-flops on the effectiveness of masks, seemingly inane restrictions on certain activities, or baseless advocacy of ineffective drugs, the past 20 months have provided numerous reasons...

Earlier this month, President Biden tapped Dr. Robert Califf to lead the Food and Drug Administration. The agency had been operating without a Senate-approved commissioner for almost a year. In my last column, I detailed how the FDA's failures reviewing and approving tests for COVID-19 have prolonged the pandemic. This week, we have a new source of dysfunction to explore—the FDA's foot-dragging on antiviral pills that treat COVID-19 and booster shots. Americans are needlessly suffering—and dying—because of that dysfunction. Since President Biden took office, FDA veteran...

Dr. Henry Miller and John Batchelor talk about the coverage around COVID-19 surges in Europe and elsewhere and what that could mean for lockdowns and vaccinations. They discuss how the United Kingdom is handling a potential new surge including masking, vaccinations, and the arrival of new surges. Miller also talks about the various surges, especially related to the delta variant and the impact of long COVID symptoms. ...

By Wayne Winegarden and Celine Bookin Billionaire investor Mark Cuban’s pharmaceutical company, the Mark Cuban Cost Plus Drug Company, is hoping to disrupt the pharmaceutical benefit management (PBM) industry with a new venture that seeks to address some of the most criticized practices of the industry. These include PBMs pocketing rather than passing on negotiated rebates and not being transparent in how they negotiate said rebates. PBMs traditionally contract with governments and businesses to manage drug formularies, determine co-pays, administer plans, and negotiate...

Earlier this month, the Biden administration mandated that employees at businesses with more than 100 workers be vaccinated or undergo weekly COVID-19 testing starting at the beginning of next year. Just two days later, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit halted the order in response to a lawsuit filed by a group of businesses and state attorneys general. The court upheld the pause Friday after an appeal from the Biden administration. Trade groups representing retail, trucking, and independent...

Inflation is worrying Americans, and for good reason. The latest inflation report, the Consumer Price Index (CPI) released on November 10th, showed that prices were 6.2 percent higher in October 2021 compared to October 2020. More troubling, this was the fifth month in a row where the annual growth in CPI inflation exceeded five percent. Digging deeper into the CPI data provides important perspective on another pressing issue – the growth in drug prices. While fluid, the so-called Build Back Better...

Just a few days ago, it appeared that Democrats had given up on including prescription drug pricing reforms in their massive spending bill. But not anymore. In an eleventh-hour turn of events, congressional Democrats this week resurrected their long-standing desire to levy government price controls on prescription drugs. If lawmakers successfully deploy their latest price-control gambit, then patients today and in the future will miss out on state-of-the-art treatments that will never be invented. According to early reports, the new drug-pricing proposal would do away with Medicare Part...