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H.R. 3’s international reference pricing misses the mark

By Susan Peschin and Duane Schulthess, April 28, 2021

The White House and Congress have declared that reining in Medicare prescription drug costs to help older adults and people with disabilities is a top priority. But one drug pricing strategy on the table would have an outsized negative impact on people with Alzheimer’s disease and decimate research trying to find effective treatments for it. This strategy, known as international reference pricing, ties the price that Medicare pays for some drugs to those paid by other countries. The idea was first introduced as a model for Medicare Part B drugs by then-HHS Secretary Alex Azar in 2018. The next year, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s drug pricing plan, known as the Elijah E. Cummings Lower Drug Costs Now Act (H.R. 3), significantly expanded the scope to allow federal government use of foreign price controls in direct negotiations with pharmaceutical companies for the cost of 250 prescription medicines in Medicare Part B and Part D. It also extended the negotiated price to insurers and the commercial market at large.

Belgium makes a U-turn on AstraZeneca jab in over-55s

Belgium is the latest European country to make a U-turn on the AstraZeneca vaccine, now recommending it for use in people over 55 years of age.   The country's Superior Health Council said data from new, large-scale studies in the UK, which showed strong efficacy in older age groups "is reassuring at first sight," and deemed the jab safe and effective.   Belgium was one of a handful of countries – including Germany, France and Italy – that limited the use of the AstraZeneca vaccine last month, despite the European Medicines Agency saying it was safe for anyone over the age of 18. 

How Europe fell behind on vaccines

The European Union's vaccination effort came under fire just as it was beginning to deliver. Heralded for months as the flagship of European solidarity during the coronavirus pandemic, the European Commission’s strategy of joint vaccine procurement is now being accused by national leaders of being too bureaucratic, too limiting to its members, too slow.

EHFG: CAR-T: The evolution of a revolution?

Do CAR-T – Chimeric antigen receptor T-cell – therapies have the potential to revolutionise cancer care? These therapies are disrupting traditional concepts of immuno-oncology, manufacturing, delivery and value across Europe. However, for many, there remain a number of open questions that need to be addressed. This session highlighted the transformative potential of these therapies, and sceptical voices who will focus on the unknown variables and where current challenges lie.

Health care 2024: Privacy in the age of digital medicine

Duane Schulthess, managing Director of Vital Transformation, was invited as an expert by POLITICO to participate in “Health Care 2024,” a survey-driven series of online debates in which POLITICO will explore how the European Union can best tackle health policy. In this installment of Health Care 2024 POLITICO asks: Can the EU gain benefits from sharing health data without weakening privacy — and if so, how?

Podcast Better Science, Better Health: Erik Tambuyzer Negotiated the First EU Orphan Drug Legislation

Erik Tambuyzer is one of the world’s thought leaders in orphan drugs and rare disease indications. While he was Genzyme’s EU and International Senior Vice-President for Corporate Affairs, he was also the industry’s negotiation lead with the European Commission and Parliament on the Orphan Medicinal Products Regulation, introduced in the year 2000, working together with patients’ organisations and academics.

US Biotech Lobby Slams EU Reference Pricing

By CARMEN PAUN 4/9/19, © POLITICO PRO Healthcare U.S. biotechnology lobby BIO said the Trump administration’s proposal to peg the prices of certain drugs to a basket of mostly EU reference countries would lead to a “downward spiral” that would negatively affect the development of new medicines.

Don’t Believe the Hype – International Reference Pricing Will Cost Far More than 1% of R&D Budgets

By Duane Schulthess It’s odd that a city like Brussels managed to carve itself out a niche as one of the major political centres of the world. The medieval site of a notoriously typhus infested bog, one of the main streets in downtown, ‘Rue du Marais’, literally means, “Street of the Swamp” and the name of the city itself comes from the old Flemish word Broekzele, which roughly translates to ‘settlement in the swamp.’ So, when one talks politically of draining the swamp, at least in Brussels, it carries a literal interpretation that is often distant from the current political climate in DC.

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