Posted by: Audrey Erbes | February 28, 2015

New Twist on Drug Pricing Issue Plus Upcoming Life Science Events

The high prices of drugs continues to fill the news. Now attempts to work around those prices are being stopped. Northeastern states have long been advocating for importing drugs for personal use but the Federal government then and now the courts have countered those attempts. It isn’t new that patients cross the border into Canada and Mexico to fill their prescriptions, but it was news to me that the state of Maine was purchasing Rx drugs from companies in selected countries of Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the U.K. since passage of a state law in 2013 permitting it. It isn’t surprising that these countries were selected for sourcing prescription drugs. Many Asian countries in the 1980s chose drugs from these along with the U.S. as basis for approval of drugs in their individual countries. They saved their governments the cost of creating expensive regulatory bodies.

But now some countries, especially India and Brazil, seek special pricing or threaten disavowal of patent laws covering these desired drugs in their countries with “compulsory licensing” actions. The industry has worried that China might copy their example and destroy the desired growth of company sales from new drugs in that emerging market. China has encouraged use of traditional medicines and generic drugs by citizens to avoid a rampant increase in overall drug costs so compulsory licensing hasn’t taken root there so far. But we know that they won’t accept these high costs for general coverage of their large population.

U.S. Chief District Judge Nancy Torresen ruled against Maine’s 2013 law allowing Maine residents to buy cheaper than Maine-sourced prescription drugs from Internet pharmacies from the above countries for personal use. She argued law jeopardizes the safety of the nation’s prescription drug supply and opens the door to counterfeit and tainted medications. “Torresen ruled that Maine infringed on the federal government’s established regulatory authority by allowing drug importation at the state level. Her decision nullifies the law, though the state could potentially appeal.” Unlike practices in the U.S. these other countries cap prices or negotiate prices with drug makers.

In the West, a California lawmaker proposed law to require pharma companies supply cost of drug data to California Office of Statewide Health Planning and Development. This isea is discussed in article entitled “California Lawmaker Wants Pharma to Reveal Costs for Pricey Drugs” by Ed Silverman. The basis of this new approach to limiting high prices results from frustration with lack of transparency on how the company established the price and the threat of adding so many high priced drugs to taxpayer-paid drug costs. This wasn’t an issue before the arrival of Rx drugs with over $10,000 cost per year or therapy. The bill would seek data on R&D costs incurred by a drug maker or a company from which a compound was acquired; R&D grants, including those from any government agency; costs for clinical trials, manufacturing and marketing; any costs associated with acquiring a compound, such as patents or licensing fees; and financial assistance provided to patients. See details at

Highlights of Upcoming Life Science Meetings This Coming Week

  • CalBio 2015, March 2-3, 2015, 8:30 am to end of day both days. Topic: “CalBio 2015: Turning Challenges into Opportunities,” Location: San Francisco Marriott Marquis, 780 Mission Street (at 4th Street). San Francisco, California 94103, Learn more at CalBio2015.org. See agenda at https://www.calbio2015.org/agenda/
  • Bio2Device Group, Tuesday Morning, March 3, 2015, Topic: “Surgery Without a Trace,” Speaker: Cal Huntzinger, Principal, De3 MedTech, LLC
  • Medtech Frontiers, Thursday Evening, March 5, 2015, Topic: “ACO + MCO + ACA = EMUA!! Lessons from a Hawaii Integrated Healthcare System CEO, Speaker: Charles A. (Chuck) Sted, former President and CEO of Hawai’i Pacific Health

You can download Audreys Picks Feb. 29, 2015 with complete details on the above and other meetings and conferences through May 2015 by right clicking on the highlighted titles. Also see JobsThatCrossedMyDeskThrough Feb. 29, 2015 for your information. I list mostly jobs in California posted in the last three weeks but you can also find national listings at the websites mentioned.

Audrey

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