Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Louisiana considers radical step to counter high drug prices: Federal intervention; Washington Post, July 3, 2017

Carolyn Y. Johnson, Washington Post; Louisiana considers radical step to counter high drug prices: Federal intervention

"At [Louisiana’s health secretary Rebekah] Gee’s urging, Joshua Sharfstein, a professor of public health at Johns Hopkins University and a former Food and Drug Administration deputy commissioner, convened a meeting of health-policy specialists and economists. They advised that the state ask the federal government to intervene in a two-pronged approach: Gee should first ask the government to negotiate with a drug company and license a medication, in line with a recent recommendation by a committee from the National Academies.

At the same time, they advised Gee to pursue a harder-edged tactic, in case the voluntary approach did not work: Gee should ask the secretary of health and human services to invoke a century-old law that allows the government to use patents at a reasonable cost. The panel recommended a price as low as $1,000 per patient.

The law was used routinely in the 1950s and 1960s to make medicines available at lower prices. It was considered but not used during the anthrax attacks in 2001. It has been used by more than 10 government agencies or departments to lower the prices for patented inventions, including night-vision goggles for the Defense Department.

“The drug has been out for years, and we’re failing to provide it to the majority of people who have this infection,” Gee said. “We’re failing at our mission to improve the public health, and so just doing what we’re doing is not an option and we have to do better.”"

No comments: