Jan 21, 2020

When a generic drug doesn't do much to lower costs for patients

Photo: Shana Novak/Getty Images

A generic version of Copaxone, one of the most popular drugs to treat multiple sclerosis, didn't do much to lower costs for patients, NPR reports.

The big picture: MS drugs cost $70,000 a year, on average, and some prices have increased to five times what they were when the drugs were first approved by the FDA.

  • The impact on MS drugs' prices after the generic was introduced was minimal, and Copaxone's price increased immediately.

The bottom line: "We've been, really been, looking to generics for some price relief, and we're probably not going to get it as quickly as we want," Stacie Dusetzina, a health policy professor at Vanderbilt University, told NPR.

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FDA defends its drug approval process after controversial reviews

FDA headquarters. Photo: Al Drago/CQ Roll Call

Many experts have questioned the FDA's drug approval standards over the past few years, as several controversial drugs have gotten the green light despite less rigorous testing.

What they're saying: Peter Stein, the head of the FDA's office that analyzes new drugs, sat down with Zachary Brennan of Regulatory Affairs Professionals Society and said the only thing that's changed with the FDA's approval process is a shift in the types of drugs the agency is reviewing.

Go deeperArrowFeb 11, 2020 - Health

Blues plans invest in new generic drug company

A new company will sell generic medicines at cost. Photo: George Frey/Getty Images

Eighteen Blue Cross Blue Shield insurers are investing a combined $55 million to build a new generic drug company as a subsidiary of the nonprofit Civica Rx. The firm will focus on manufacturing generics people get at the pharmacy.

Between the lines: Civica and the Blues aren't disclosing which drugs they want to make, so it's unclear how much effect this company will have. But the investment highlights the broad desire to counter generic companies that are accused of price-gouging.

Go deeperArrowJan 23, 2020

Why Biogen's generic drug patent win matters

Mylan is itching to make a generic version of Biogen's popular multiple sclerosis drug Tecfidera, but that won't be happening for a while now that federal patent reviewers turned down Mylan's patent challenge.

The big picture: The victory for Biogen not only secures several more years of monopoly pricing for the company — Biogen has a history of raising Tecfidera's list price by at least 5% per year — but also likely will create a higher baseline price for when Tecfidera generics finally come out.

Go deeperArrowFeb 10, 2020 - Health