The Health 202: One GOP senator is urging the drug industry to make good…

first_imgThe Washington PostMarch 6, 2019 company executives indicated last week they would be willing to slash their prices if they no longer were forced to pay middlemen the kind of discounts that many blame for driving up the cost of prescription drugs for consumers.Now, a first-term Republican senator is trying to turn that pledge into a reality with a new bill banning the practice of “rebates” in which drugmakers pay middlemen in the confusing drug-pricing chain to make sure their drugs are covered by insurers. Sen. Mike Braun (R-Ind.) this week introduced a measure to end rebates negotiated between drugmakers and pharmacy benefit managers in transactions conducted in the private sector.The proposal would do for private health plans what the Trump administration has already proposed doing for government-sponsored health plans as the president has publicly taken aim at drug prices, to mixed results so far. The Health and Human Services Department in January announced draft rules allowing drug companies to offer discounted prices directly to consumers, aiming to stop the controversial rebate practice. But those rules would apply only to Medicare drug plans and Medicaid managed-care plans.Braun’s bill would ban rebates in all private plans, including employer-sponsored ones. When the administration’s proposal was announced, HHS Secretary Alex Azar encouraged lawmakers to “get to work on extending this proposal to the commercial market, too.” Here, Braun has done just that.“In an effort to lower drug prices, President Trump’s HHS is exposing the hidden system of kickbacks to middlemen known as pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs),” Braun said in a statement to The Health 202. “I believe Secretary Azar will support this basic measure that amplifies his efforts to provide greater drug price transparency.”Braun told reporters he believes drug companies will get on board with his plan because they know the rebate system “doesn’t make sense.”During last week’s testimony by drug executives before the Senate Finance Committee, Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) asked whether their companies would lower prices if the Trump rule applying to public-sector plans is ultimately implemented.The executives were reluctant to make firm commitments, but some signaled they would be willing to lower prices if rebates were banned in the private sector, too.“If the rebates were removed from the commercial sector as well, we would definitely reduce our list prices,” AstraZeneca chief executive Pascal Soriot told Grassley.In a statement to The Health 202, the company reiterated Soriot’s remarks, saying that if rebates for both private and public plans were eliminated, “we are prepared to reduce list prices by an equivalent amount of rebates less appropriate market based fees to those in the supply chain. This would reduce overall costs to patients and the government.”Merck head Kenneth Frazier told lawmakers he would “expect our prices would go down if we changed the system again, on the commercial side as well as the Medicare side.”During the hearing, Bristol-Myers Squibb chief executive Giovanni Caforio said he shared the same position. After a follow-up question, Bristol-Myers Squibb said it remains “committed to working with Congress and the Administration on reforming the rebate system with a focus on what is best for patients.”After the hearing, Sen. Ron Wyden (Ore.), the committee’s ranking Democrat, called on the seven drug executives to answer in writing whether they would commit to lowering list prices if rebates went down. “Big Pharma is eager to point the finger at the middlemen, and now is their chance to follow through on their promises to be a part of the solution,” Wyden said in a statement last week.David Mitchell, president and founder of Patients for Affordable Drugs, was skeptical, however. He said while Braun’s bill is a step in the right direction, without specific provisions to require list price reductions, “we cannot trust the drug companies to voluntarily lower list prices.”“Let’s say a drug is $100 and a rebate is $30. If rebates go away, first we have to compel the drug companies to bring the price to $70, then we have to make sure they don’t start raising prices again willy-nilly,” Mitchell told me.And the much-villainized middlemen, a trade group for the PBMs, said it would work with lawmakers but pointed the finger at those who pay them the rebates to begin with: drug companies.“[T]he legislation appears to do absolutely nothing to address the root cause of the problem: high list prices that only the drug manufacturers have the power to set,” J.C. Scott, president of the Pharmaceutical Care Management Association, told The Health 202 in a statement. “Despite drug manufacturers’ rhetoric, their pricing strategies are unrelated to the rebates they negotiate with PBMs.Mitchell said the bill still highlights the “bipartisan energy” around addressing skyrocketing drug costs.And Rachel Sachs, an associate professor of law at Washington University in St. Louis, said the GOP senator’s proposal puts the onus on drug companies to act.Drug companies have been “very successful in demonizing PBMs over the last few years,” she told me. “Now that it looks like Congress is thinking about giving the pharmaceutical industry what they have asked for on PBMs, the pharmaceutical industry needs to step up to the plate and make serious concessions, or they may face more extreme reactions from Congress.”Braun said his bill, dubbed the Drug Price Transparency Act can start to bring transparency to an industry that has “given us a system that is as broken as one can be.”“This bill doesn’t outlaw PBMs. It doesn’t even outlaw rebates. What it’s going to do is shed light on the process so they’re not going to be able to get by with the argument that there’s room for a whole other layer of a middleman,” Braun said. “You don’t need it.”FacebookTwitterCopy LinkEmailSharelast_img read more

Ozzy Osbourne Fulfills Platinum Record Wish For Terminally-Ill Former Bandmate

first_imgMost classic rock and Ozzy Osbourne fans probably couldn’t pick Lee Kerslake out from a crowd, but the older musician once played a key role (and instrument) in The Prince of Darkness’ early solo career.  Kerslake was the drummer featured on Osbourne’s first two solo albums, 1980’s Blizzard of Ozz, and 1981’s Diary of a Madman. Both albums would help launch Ozzy’s post-Black Sabbath solo career, in addition to selling millions of copies between the two of them.Unfortunately, Father Time has not been as kind to Kerslake as he has for Osbourne, as the drummer has since been diagnosed with terminal prostate and bone cancer in recent years. Like any in Kerslake’s sad predicament, the former rock drummer made a bucket list of things he would like to do before he passes. One of the items on that list included the hanging of the album-sales plaque recognizing his participation in the two studio projects onto his living room wall before he died, which Osbourne was more than happy to help fulfill.While the relationship between the two men may be coming to a heart-warming end, that wasn’t always the case over the years. Kerslake and bassist Bob Daisley both sued Osbourne for lack of royalty payments following the two albums’ releases in the early 1980s. Daisley also helped co-write a handful of songs which appeared on the first two albums, but both musicians were fired prior to the November 1981 release of Diary of a Madman. Apparently, the legal process aimed at collecting money from Osbourne left Kerslake in poor financial status.Related: Remembering The Brief, Prolific Career & Reckless Death Of Guitar Master Randy RhoadsRegardless of their past history, that didn’t stop Kerslake from writing Ozzy and his manager/wife, Sharon, requesting to have the framed plaque recognizing the album’s sales achievement sent to his home. Kerslake still won’t be seeing any of the albums’ royalty earnings, but rather, was just simply hoping to have the plaque hung up on his wall as one of the last moments of pride before cancer took his life. Like the classy professional that we all know Ozzy can be, the famous musician obliged his dying former bandmate’s request and shared a photo of Kerslake with the plaque to his social media on Friday.Osbourne has continued to stay busy in recent years. Black Sabbath closed the book on the live side of their career with a final tour that ended back in February 2017. Osbourne has since announced his own supposed “final tour” as a solo artist, with scheduled shows now slated to continue into 2020. [H/T: Consequence Of Sound]last_img read more

Archivist documents life of St. Mary’s alum

first_imgSaint Mary’s students had a unique chance to learn about their school’s history from College archivist John Kovach on Monday. Students gathered in the Student Center Lounge to hear Kovach speak while viewing images of past life at Saint Mary’s College.  Photos of old uniforms and boating events on Lake Marian populated the collection. The panels of pictures, stories and poems in the exhibit centered on the life of a 1916 alumna, Dympna Balbach. During his lecture, Kovach described the life of Balbach through the photographs. “These photos tell a very interesting story about a woman that was always very close to Saint Mary’s,” Kovach said. Balbach attended Saint Mary’s to receive both her high school and college education, majoring in music. She had neither a career nor a husband after graduation. For a consecutive 55 years after her graduation, Balbach attended every year’s class reunion, meeting with up old friends and visiting the campus. Because she came to campus so often, the archives had several photos of Balbach and her friends throughout the years. Three days after the 1972 reunion, Balbach died at Saint Joseph Hospital in South Bend. Her will was discovered and she had left her entire estate, valued at more than $1 million, to Saint Mary’s. Balbach’s contribution was the College’s first donation over $1 million. The stories of other alumnae can also be found in Saint Mary’s archives. One 1877 graduate went on to not only perform in Le Opera, but to also become a very influential opera columnist in a Chicago paper. Another graduate became an independent nurse during World War I, and afterward traveled to Algeria, Kovach said. “I’m continually finding new and interesting things,” Kovach said. This exploration of Saint Mary’s history was made possible by the Student Government Association as part of Heritage Week. Other Heritage Week events include the Riedinger Tea, the Heritage Dinner, a scavenger hunt and S’mores with Sisters.last_img read more

County Officials Reveal Three New Positive COVID-19 Cases Last Weekly Scheduled Press Conference

first_imgMAYVILLE – Chautauqua County officials reported three new cases during their press conference Friday afternoon in the Legislative chambers. Wendel says Friday’s conference will be the last weekly conference as of now. He additionally congratulated the Class of 2020 for their hard work, especially during the tough circumstances that the global COVID-19 pandemic continues.Wendel says 101 people are under quarantine. There have been seven fatalities.The County Executive thanked his COVID-19 Response Team for their efforts during the crisis. “I thank each one of them….for all of their hard work,” Wendel said. He additionally says that the team will continue to work together as the pandemic moves forward.Public Health Director Christine Schuyler says that, at this time, the virus isn’t circulating rapidly compared to other areas. Schuyler, however, says that doesn’t mean the virus isn’t completely gone from the community.“A test result is a test result, and it’s only as good as the day the test was done,” Schuyler said. She says the community has done a “great job” at adhering to social distancing guidelines, but she reminds the community that “this is not a race” in terms of reopening the economy.Dr. Robert Burke says it’s difficult to determine when it’ll no longer be necessary to wear a mask.Schuyler was unable to comment on the Heritage Park “presumptive” positive case due to HIPPA regulations, and because nursing home health situations are regulated by the New York State Department of Health.Wendel says that he believes Chautauqua County is prepared to handle a possible “second wave” of the COVID-19 virus based on experience and knowledge gained from the first wave, along with the stockpile of equipment.Share:Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)last_img read more

Credit union-friendly candidates see success in AZ, FL primaries

first_imgCredit union-friendly candidates in Arizona and Florida emerged victorious in primary elections in both states Tuesday. CUNA and its political action committee, the Credit Union Legislative Action Council (CULAC), along with state leagues, supported candidates who have expressed support for credit union priorities.See below for the list of winners, with credit union-backed candidates in bold.In Arizona’s 1st Congressional District, Pinal County Sheriff Paul Bebeu (R) defeated three other candidates in the seat vacated by Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick (D), who is running for Senate. Babeu was endorsed by the Mountain West Credit Union Association and had CULAC’s backing.In the state’s 5th Congressional District, the Republican primary remains too close to call as of Wednesday, with league-endorsed and CULAC-backed candidate and State Senate President Andy Biggs trailing former GoDaddy exec Christine Jones by less than 900 votes. continue reading » ShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblrlast_img read more

OIE says wild bird deaths from H5N1 may be cyclical

first_imgMay 21, 2007 (CIDRAP News) – In the first half of 2007, countries reported fewer migratory bird deaths from the H5N1 avian influenza virus, but the virus is still circulating among poultry flocks in several countries, the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) said today.The drop in wild and migratory bird deaths could indicate that the disease is nearing the end of a cycle, said Bernard Vallat, director-general of the OIE, in a press release. However, the fact that poultry deaths steadily continue sends an important message, he said: “That shows the international community needs to keep up its high level of prevention and control measures of the disease in animals.”Michael T. Osterholm, PhD, MPH, director of the University of Minnesota Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy, publisher of the CIDRAP News, said the presence of disease cycles in birds should not be interpreted to mean H5N1 does or doesn’t still pose a risk. “Like any other disease, there are ebbs and flows,” he said, adding that as birds which build up immunity to the virus die off, the new populations that replace them are vulnerable to avian flu, which then can lead to a surge in wild bird cases.Disease trends in wild birds will always differ from those seen in domestic birds, because animal health officials have few intervention options. Said Osterholm, “The cycle in wild birds is pretty much on its own.”The OIE said 59 countries have reported H5N1 outbreaks in birds since 2003. Vallat said he was encouraged by the improvements many countries have made in their disease control efforts. “Globally, countries have improved governance on implementation of preventive measures as recommended by the OIE, the FAO [United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization], and the WHO [World Health Organization] to avert the disease,” he said in the press release.Highly pathogenic avian influenza remains endemic in three countries—Indonesia, Nigeria, and Egypt—and continues to appear in previously unaffected countries, according to the OIE press release. In 2007 so far, H5N1 avian influenza has for the first time struck birds in Ghana, Bangladesh, Saudi Arabia, and Britain.The OIE emphasized the need for global solidarity in the fight to control H5N1 in birds. “A single failing country, and the whole world is at risk of infection,” the organization said.Juan Lubroth, senior officer of the FAO’s infectious disease unit, said in a Feb 20 FAOAIDE News report that transparency around disease outbreaks, direct involvement of farmers in surveillance and reporting, and compensation are key to global efforts to control the disease. He said the lower number of bird outbreaks in 2007 is partly due to less migration by wild birds from Asia to Europe last fall. However, the FAO report said poultry trade and the transport of live birds could still spread the virus, which requires strong vigilance.See also:May 21 OIE press release 20 FAOAIDE news reportlast_img read more

Under-regulated pension funds could ‘distort’ lending market, minister warns

first_imgThis increase in regulation – particularly for banks – means the world is “en route to a credit squeeze”, he warned.However, Hartwig Webersinke, an economist at the University of Applied Sciences in Aschaffenburg, argued that the increase in regulation in the wake of the financial crisis was “cyclical”.After 2008, the “clear political aim was to never let this happen again”, and to ensure this, “a flood” of new regulation was introduced.Webersinke argued that many of the new regulatory requirements were contradicting one other and pointed out that many financial service providers were being visited by different supervisors because there had been no final agreement on the remits of different European or local authorities.As a case in point, he cited European Central Bank president Mario Draghi announcing support for banks to lend more venture capital.“One month later, a different authority, under the same roof, told banks they had to improve their accounts because of new stress tests,” Webersinke said. “In a few years, we will be thinking about the costs of this additional regulation and the actual effect it has, and this will change the regulatory environment.“We are only at the beginning, but I hope we will realise how many redundancies are already being created by too much regulation and that it is killing some financial products like the Riester-Rente,” Websersinke added, referring to the German supplementary pensions vehicle set up by the former labour minister Walter Riester in 2002.Regarding a possible financial transaction tax, Schelling said he did not see a sufficient number of EU member states supporting the measure.“Further, it is unclear whether it is actually legally possible to introduce such a tax in only a few member states against the will of the other EU members,” he said. Austrian finance minister Hans Jörg Schelling has warned that institutional investors providing financing for projects and companies could “distort” the lending market because they are less regulated than banks.Speaking at the recent Faros institutional investor conference in Vienna, Schelling reiterated concerns raised by the International Monetary Fund in its October 2014 Financial Stability Report concerning ‘shadow banking’. “Regulation is a cost factor banks have to take into account and other lenders do not,” he said.Schelling said the regulatory situation in Europe was becoming “more and more dramatic”, with some new requirements “actually being pure nonsense”.last_img read more

Diana Shipping Charters Bulker Trio at Higher Rates

first_imgAthens-based shipping firm Diana Shipping has secured charter contracts for three of its dry bulk vessels, the MV Medusa, MV Artemis and MV Thetis.The Kamsarmax Medusa was charter by Geneva-based Cargill International at a gross charter rate of USD 10,000 per day. The 82,194 dwt bulker,. which was hired for a period of twelve to fifteen months, started working under the new contract on July 6, 2017.Built in 2010, Medusa was previously chartered to Geneva’s Quadra Commodities at a rate of USD 6,300 per day.Diana Shipping’s further two Panamax dry bulkers were hired by Hong Kong-based Ausca Shipping Limited, also at higher rates.Namely, the company’s dry bulk vessel Artemis started working for Ausca Shipping on July 8 for a gross charter rate of USD 9,000 per day. The 76,942 dwt ship’s deal runs for a period of twelve to fifteen months. Earlier, the 2006-built vessel was earning a gross charter rate of USD 5,350 per day under a deal with Geneva’s Bunge.Thetis, the second ship chartered by Ausca Shipping, is scheduled to start working under the new contract on July 12. Under the deal, the 2004-built ship will earn a gross charter rate of USD 8,350 per day for a period of twelve to fifteen months. The 73,583 dwt Thetis is currently chartered to Transgrain Shipping from Rotterdam at a rate of USD 5,150 per day.Diana Shipping informed that the employments of the three bulkers are expected to generate around USD 9.85 million of gross revenue for the minimum scheduled period of the time charters.last_img read more

‘Pusher’ falls in drug bust

first_imgBY IAN PAUL CORDERO Sabarillo – resident of the village – was arrested after he sold a sachet of suspected illegal drugs to an undercover cop for P15,000 on Monday. Ronald Sabarillo, 35, was caught in a drug buy-bust operation in Barangay Calaparan, Arevalo district, a police report showed. ILOILO City – He sold suspected shabu, police said. The suspect was detained in the lockup facility of the Arevalo police station, facing charges for violation of Republic Act 9165, or the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002./PNlast_img read more

BAHS plans vintage car visit

first_imgPhoto Courtesy of BAHSBatesville, In. — The Batesville Area Historical Society will welcome the Great Lakes Region Vintage Car Club on Tuesday, July 25 from 1 to 3 p.m. Residents can come to the Historical Center at 15 West George Street cars like a 1927 Model A Essex or a 1950 DeSoto.During the month of July the Indiana Historical Society’s “Auto Indiana” exhibit in Batesville. Through September the auto-related collections of Joe Greiwe and Bill Nuhring are on display as well. The collections include vintage service station attire, spark plugs and carburetors.last_img read more