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Briefly: Sen. Wyden blasts Trump administration over drug pricing plan

An Oregon senator and ranking Democrat on the U.S. Senate Finance Committee called on the administration to release public comments on the plan.
July 13, 2018

Oregon U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden again blasted the Trump administration on Monday over its proposed drug pricing plan.

“Trump has spent nearly half of his presidency making empty promises on drug prices while Big Pharma continues to raise prices on Americans unabated,” Wyden said in a statement.

His statement comes as the comment period for the administration's drug pricing plan comes to an end. Introduced in May, the plan promised to bring down prices by:

  • Requiring drug companies to list prices in ads.
  • Giving insurance companies offering Medicare supplement plans the “market-based” tools they need to negotiate better prices with drug companies.
  • Giving the federal government the ability to negotiate with physicians over drug pricing in their administration of medications
  • Potentially merging Medicare’s Part B medical coverage with D drug plans, covered by supplemental plans, to give to give the government more negotiating leverage.
  • Introducing more competition into the marketplace.

But prices have continued to go up, even after the secretary of Health and Human Services, Alex Azar, said he hopes companies would “exercise restraint,” Wyden said in the statement. "A newly released index showed that many drug prices have increased by nearly 25 to 40 percent since Trump announced his candidacy, while prices for other consumer goods have risen 5.6 percent. "

Last week, Pfizer said it would suspend some price hikes following a shaming Tweet from Trump. But it made no promises about making permanent cuts.

With the comment period ending, Wyden demanded that the results be released. It is "critical that the Trump Administration makes these responses public so the American people can see what each industry and interest is asking for," the statement said.


7.13.2018: Routine Treatment of Opioid Abuse can Stem Epidemic

To help stem the nationwide opioid epidemic and related increases in HIV, hepatitis C and other infections, health care providers should routinely screen and treat patients for opioid abuse when they come to clinics and hospitals seeking other services.

That’s one of five recommendations outlined in a paper published in the Annals of Internal Medicine. The paper supports a newly published document that outlines the proceedings of a workshop this spring convened by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine.

“Treatment can save lives,” said one of the paper’s authors, Dr. Todd Korthuis of Oregon Health & Science University. "The national opioid epidemic can turn around if we embrace opioid use disorder as a chronic medical condition that needs treatment instead of a moral issue or the result of poor willpower.”

The workshop highlighted one of the many dire consequences of the opioid epidemic: More people are turning to injection drug use after their opioid prescriptions are cut off, which in turn has led to an increase in life-threatening infections of the skin, joint, blood, bone and more. These serious infections require expensive and lengthy hospital treatments, but most hospital staff don’t regularly address the root cause: drug addiction.

Korthuis co-wrote the paper with Dr. Sandra A. Springer of the Yale School of Medicine and Dr. Carlos del Rio of the Emory University School of Medicine.