Health and Medical News and Resources

General interest items edited by Janice Flahiff

[India’s] Free-medicines-for-all programme to be launched from October

From the 24 June 2012 post at PG Times

India’s ambitious plan to provide free medicines to all patients attending a government hospital across the country will be launched from October, according to a government report.

Manmohan Singh

Strongly backed by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh himself, the free-medicines-for-all scheme has received its first financial allocation of Rs 100 crore from the Planning Commission for 2012-13. The entire programme is estimated to cost Rs 28,560 crore over the 12th Five Year Plan….

June 25, 2012 Posted by | Public Health | , , , | Leave a comment

Options when your drug copays are too expensive

Picture taken by myself of my Adderall prescri...

Image via Wikipedia

From a KevinMD.com article by LESLIE RAMIREZ, MD

You have insurance and, supposedly, it covers your medicines. However, you still get stuck with a portion of the bill that the insurance company calls a “copay.” In some cases these copays can run more than $150/ month per medication (e.g. Enbrel). If you are on more than one of these expensive, branded medications the copays can really add up. What are your options?

 1. Generic alternative. Always ask your doc if there is a reasonable generic alternative. This is always the best option for you in the long run. However, if there truly is no generic medication that comes close, then check into either (or both) of the next two options.

2. Drug specific copay programs. These programs are run by the manufacturers of the drugs, aka Big Pharma (BP). Usually, these discounts are given to all patients, regardless of income.  But make no mistake, it is a way for BP to circumvent your insurance company’s cost control mechanism for prescriptions. By picking up part or all of the cost of your copay, BP trying to make their product more attractive to you and to your physician. But when the manufacturer stops offering the copay discount programs you will be back to square one. However, if according to your doctor, you must be on one of these drugs, then by all means, take advantage of the savings while they last. In the case of Enbrel, the Enbrel Support Card Program picked up the tab for six months worth of copays. To find out more info on whether such a program exists for your medication, there are many websites out there, including the manufacturer’s site.

However, I found the following two websites particularly useful:

Internetdrugscoupons.com This website shows you all available drugs that have coupons, copay and otherwise,  associated with them. It’s an ugly little site, and ignore the annoying ads for a prescription savings card. But it couldn’t be simpler to use. And all the coupons I clicked on were still valid- so it seems like the folks behind it keep it up to date. According to the mission statement on the website “[The founder] assembled this database of drug coupons to make it easy for people like my elderly parents to save money on their medications.”

RxAssist.org This is a super slick website that allows you to look up your medicines, albeit individually, to see what deals are offered. When you see a deal you click on the medicine and you are directed to the manufacturer’s website. According to the About section of the website, RxAssist.org was established in 1999 with funding from The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

3.  Disease specific copay programs. There are many organizations that offer patients with specific diseases, such as cancer and HIV/AIDS,  assistance with their prescription copays. These programs often require financial ability-to-pay information from you to qualify for assistance. Disease Specific Copay Programs is a very comprehensive list of copay and other assistance programs compiled by a BP-funded site called Partnership for Prescription Assistance, aka PPArx.org.

Leslie Ramirez is an internal medicine physician and founder of Leslie’s List, which provides information that enables all patients, but especially the uninsured and underinsured, to find more affordable medications and health care services.

July 27, 2011 Posted by | Consumer Health | , , , , , | Leave a comment

What’s The Use Of Health Economic Evaluations?

From the 10 May 2011 Medical News Today article

The production of health economic evaluations of pharmaceuticals is a multibillion dollar industry globally. Nevertheless, little is known about uptake by medical decision makers.

Dr. Sandra Erntoft has investigated whether there are differences in use across decision makers and to what extent these patterns can be explained by contextual factors?

The review – “Pharmaceutical priority setting and the use of health economic evaluations – A systematic literature review”, published in Value In Health identifies differences in the use between decision makers and contexts. Health Economic evaluations are not only used in order to inform decisions, but also serves the purpose of rationalize decisions, structuring the priority setting process or requesting additional budgets. Factors that seem to support an increased use of health economic evaluations are a general awareness and acceptance of limited health care resources, demands for an explicit priority setting process, the lack of budgetary responsibilities and the presence of health economic skills.

Dr. Sandra Erntoft, Research Director of the Swedish Institute for Health Economics says “When these preconditions are not in place, it is difficult for a decision maker to use health economic evaluations directly in medical decision making. In order to increase the use these cultural and institutional barriers need to be removed.”

May 12, 2011 Posted by | Medical and Health Research News | , , , | Leave a comment

‘Dispense as written’ prescriptions may add $7.7 billion to annual health care costs in U.S.

‘Dispense as written’ prescriptions may add $7.7 billion to annual health care costs in U.S.

From the March 25 2011 Science Daily news item

ScienceDaily (Mar. 25, 2011) — Approximately five percent of prescriptions submitted by CVS Caremark Pharmacy Benefit Management (PBM) members in a 30-day period during 2009 included a “dispense as written” (DAW) designation. This practice — whereby doctors or patients demand the dispensing of a specific brand-name drug and not a generic alternative — costs the health care system up to $7.7 billion annually, according to a new study by researchers at Harvard University, Brigham and Women’s Hospital and CVS Caremark. Moreover, these requests reduce the likelihood that patients actually fill new prescriptions for essential chronic conditions.

In a study published this week in the American Journal of Medicine,*** the researchers demonstrate that DAW designations for prescriptions have important implications for medication adherence. They found that when starting new essential therapy, chronically ill patients with DAW prescriptions were 50 to 60 percent less likely to actually fill the more expensive brand name prescriptions than generics. “Although dispense as written requests would seem to reflect a conscious decision by patients or their physicians to use a specific agent, the increased cost sharing that results for the patient may decrease the likelihood that patients actually fill their prescriptions,” the researchers said……

***For suggestions on how to get this article for free or at low cost, click here

 

March 27, 2011 Posted by | Medical and Health Research News, Public Health | , , , | Leave a comment

How do data exclusivity periods affect pharmaceutical innovation?

How do data exclusivity periods affect pharmaceutical innovation?

Study is first to estimate financial and social impact of extending exclusive access to clinical trial data for conventional drugs

From a January 6, 2011 Eureka news alert

LOS ANGELES, Calif. — January 6, 2011 — Pharmaceutical companies and generic drug manufacturers have long been at odds over regulations about “data exclusivity,” the period of time before generic manufacturers can make use of valuable clinical trial data.

A new study in the January 2011 issue of Health Affairs *** is the first to calculate the financial and social costs of limiting access to trial data — and finds that extending the term of exclusive access will lead to higher drug costs in the short term but also to more than 200 extra drug approvals and to greater life expectancy in the next several decades.

“Elected officials are unlikely to embrace legislation that would result in higher drug prices, but our research suggests that legislation to extend data exclusivity would spur innovation that would benefit future generations,” explained Dana Goldman, lead author, director of the Schaeffer Center for Health Policy and Economics at USC and Norman Topping Chair in Medicine and Public Policy at USC.

The pharmaceutical companies that introduce new drugs are currently granted five years of exclusive access to the clinical trial data they submit during the approval process. An extension of three years is available if new applications arise and a six month extension is granted if the drug is approved for use in pediatric populations.

In 2007, the National Academies Committee on Science, Engineering and Public Policy called for extending this “data exclusivity” term to the longer period used in Europe, ten to 11 years. But generic manufacturers have argued for shorter limits so that they can bring less expensive versions of drugs to patients sooner.

“Unfortunately, the health policy literature contains no information about the effects such a policy would have on innovation, population longevity and social welfare,” said Darius Lakdawalla, research director at the Schaeffer Center at USC and associate professor in the USC School of Policy, Planning and Development.

In the first study to directly address these issues, the researchers estimate that extending the term of data exclusivity to 12 years would increase the lifetime revenue of a drug by 5 percent, on average.

With empirical evidence that profits drive drug innovation, this longer term would lead to an additional 228 drug approvals over the next fifty years and an increase of 1.7 months in average life expectancy, according to the study.

John Romley, an economist with the Schaeffer Center at USC and research assistant professor at the USC School of Policy, Planning and Development, acknowledged the trade-off between current and future generations: “Americans in the early 2020’s would bear the cost of increasing drug spending. However, people turning 55 in 2060 could expect increased life expectancy as a result of innovation in the interceding years — that is, new drugs brought to market because of lengthier data exclusivity.”

***Click here for suggestions on how to get this article for free or at low cost

January 7, 2011 Posted by | Medical and Health Research News | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

   

%d bloggers like this: