Good morning ... Look, I don't want to admit that my spirit animal might not be an owl, after all, but rather this obscene parrot that cursed out the people just trying to help her escape from a predicament she got herself into. But, hey, if the shoe fits.
Firefighters help an overdose victim in Rockford, Ill.. Photo: Scott Olson/Getty Images
Despite a political clamor to help arrest the opioid crisis, its death toll continues to rise. More than 72,000 people died from drug overdoses in 2017, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said yesterday. That’s a new record, and an increase of just under 10% from 2016.
The biggest problem is still synthetic opioids like fentanyl.
Fentanyl’s risks are threefold: It’s easy to make and ship; it’s incredibly potent; and it shows up in different places, at different strengths.
What to watch: Congress is still debating a package of opioids-related bills, which does include some new tools to help detect fentanyl shipments as they come in through the mail and some new efforts to boost treatment options.
Axios’ Bob Herman reviewed the second-quarter financial statements of 16 not-for-profit hospital systems, and the big takeaway is that they’re doing just fine.
By the numbers:
Go deeper: The whole health care industry is having a profitable year so far.
CVS Health is “restructuring” its drug pricing contracts with the health insurers running Ohio’s Medicaid program and expects to stick around in Ohio, the company tells Axios.
The bottom line: A CVS spokesperson said the insurers “chose” the model under which pharmacy benefit managers collect the spread on different drug prices. The state subsequently decided it didn’t want to use that model any more, but its PBM contracts aren’t being rebid, CVS said.
What we’re watching: Whether other Medicaid programs force their PBMs to rework contracts with simpler, more transparent terms.
You've probably heard PBMs tout the savings they negotiate for prescription drugs — and they often do. But Reuters illuminates another side of the business at the country's biggest PBM, Express Scripts — it's also a specialty pharmacy that partners with drug companies to sell new and expensive products.
How it works: Express Scripts' PBM and its specialty pharmacy are walled off from each other, the company told Reuters.
The intrigue, via Reuters: "By working as both the manufacturer’s partner who gets paid for each sale, and the pharmacy benefit manager responsible for negotiating the best price for its traditional corporate and government clients, Express Scripts is open to questions about being conflicted, industry sources and experts say."
Between the lines: As PBMs come under fire politically for their rebate structure, they've been sharply disputing charges from critics — including the Trump administration — that they benefit from drugs' high sticker prices.
The other side: “Our PBM treats our specialty pharmacy as they treat any other pharmacy in our pharmacy network,” the company told Reuters.
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