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On Thursday July 22, Axios senior editor Sam Baker and health care reporter Caitlin Owens discussed the future of biosimilars and other innovative approaches to lowering the cost of treatment for patients in the U.S., featuring Rep. Kurt Schrader (D-Ore.) and Carolina Blood and Cancer Care CEO Dr. Kashyap Patel.

Rep. Kurt Schrader discussed bipartisanship in drug pricing policy, the role of the FDA, and efforts to increase the adoption of biosimilars.

  • On improving public awareness of biosimilars: "I think beyond just the price range, there's got to be a little more of a public relations campaign about [their] benefits...Once we start getting some increased uptake, we can then encourage FDA to continue to approve more and more of these biosimilars."
  • On bipartisan policymaking: "I would say there's actually a fair amount of bipartisanship in [drug pricing policy]...Pharmaceutical companies seem to be stepping up at this point in time, willing to be part of the solution, as are some of the insurers and manufacturers."

Dr. Kashyap Patel expressed his views on the biosimilars markets and the impact its affordability and accessibility could have for patients with long term diseases.

  • On the unique challenge faced by patients who require long-term care: "The price takes its own toll on cancer patients with [more] patients facing out-of-pocket costs. It becomes hard for them to sustain the level of cancer care. I think biosimilars definitely help assimilate some of that kind of challenge."
  • On the promises of biosimilars for reducing cost of care: "[Oncologists] have seen a huge potential saving that has been achieved...We form a very small segment. But I'm proud to say that we adopted it so well and we've seen the success in reducing the out-of-pocket costs on the total cost of care."

Axios SVP of Events & Creative Strategy Kristin Burkhalter hosted a View from the Top Segment with Viatris' President of Developed Markets, Tony Mauro, who discussed biosimilars as an opportunity to increase access and reduce cost for patients.

  • "In the US today, we have approximately $500 billion in pharmaceutical spend. 20,000 marketed products make up the great majority of that spend in health care from a medical standpoint. Out of that spend 45%, over $200 billion alone from biologic products...I believe one of the biggest opportunities we have to drive both access and reduction in spend is by introducing biosimilars."

Thank you Viatris for sponsoring this event.

Go deeper

Updated Oct 29, 2021 - Axios Events

Watch: A conversation on innovations in senior health care

On Friday, October 29th, Axios health care reporter Tina Reed explored how technological advancements are transforming the way seniors access and receive health care, featuring Sen. Jacky Rosen (D-Nev.) and American Telemedicine Association Board Chair Dr. Joseph C. Kvedar.

Sen. Jacky Rosen highlighted how caring for an aging loved one impacts their families, the current efforts in congressional legislation to improve senior health care, and adaptations being made to ensure rural areas have sufficient broadband to access telehealth services.

  • On expanding access to telehealth in rural areas: “We have to be sure when we talk about seniors that they have access if they’re in rural or underserved communities, we need to get providers out there and we need to give them telehealth and even telephone. That’s really important and we need to expand the providers that are there.”
  • On the important role of telehealth during the pandemic: “We know that it’s kept people alive. It’s helped people who are homebound, it’s helped people who can’t go with COVID they’re at risk because they have other diseases, high risks, they haven’t been able to go into an office.”

Dr. Joseph C. Kvedar illustrated specific innovations in technological gadgets for senior care, how to distinguish between valuable technology and useless health apps, and how to design health care tech tools for senior use.

  • On evaluating if a health tech gadget is useful or not: “The other barometer is are there good, solid clinical outcomes, usually from clinical research or clinical trials, but sometimes from real world evidence that point us to an outcome that we can hang our hat on as valuable. That helps me separate junk from non-junk.”
  • On telehealth in health care delivery moving forward: “For seniors, Medicare is pivotal, and right now Medicare is allowing for any senior citizen to get telehealth wherever they are...as long as their doctor is licensed in their state. It wasn’t always that way, it used to be that they had to be in a certain geographically narrowly restricted living area and had to travel to a clinic, and the doctor on the other end had to be in a clinic as well. So that’s a law, it’s been forgiven now for the pandemic, but we want to get it changed.”

Axios SVP of Events & Creative Strategy Kristin Burkhalter hosted a View from the Top segment with Better Medicare Alliance president and CEO Mary Beth Donahue, who explained how Medicare Advantage is factoring innovations in senior care into their plans.

  • “With this common understanding of medical and social needs, not just medical but social, really has Medicare Advantage being able to ensure that beneficiaries are getting the support they need for their healthy lives.”

Thank you Better Medicare Alliance for sponsoring this event.

Biden says he'll make Supreme Court pick by end of February

President Biden speaks on the retirement of Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer in the Roosevelt Room of the White House. Photo: Yuri Gripas/Abaca/Bloomberg via Getty Images

President Biden on Thursday said he will announce the nominee for Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer's replacement by the end of February.

Driving the news: Biden also affirmed that he will nominate a Black woman to replace Breyer, saying "it's long overdue."

Stephen Breyer formally announces retirement from Supreme Court

Photo: Andrew Harnik/AP

Justice Stephen Breyer on Thursday sent a letter to President Biden formally announcing his retirement from the Supreme Court.

State of play: Breyer said his retirement will take effect when the court "rises for the summer recess (typically late June or early July) assuming that by then my successor has been nominated and confirmed."

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