Drug prices

When pharma companies send checks to patients

A gloved hand holds a dozen pills.
Drug companies sometimes directly pay patients to get their medication. Photo: Florian Gaertner/Photothek via Getty Images

Brand-name pharmaceutical companies occasionally send checks to commercially insured patients with the goal of getting those people to keep taking their high-priced drugs, Kaiser Health News reports.

Why it matters: The industry says this is simply a direct form of "patient assistance," which also includes things like copay coupons. However, critics see these practices as a form of kickback, and they're outlawed in Medicare and Medicaid because they induce people to stay on drugs that have seen staggering price increases.

House passes a baby step on drug prices

A pair of EpiPen's on a table.
Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

The House yesterday overwhelmingly passed a bill cracking down on some of the tactics Mylan used to pay lower Medicaid rebates for the EpiPen. The Senate is hoping to pass the bill this year.

The big picture: EpiPen was misclassified as a generic drug within Medicaid, which resulted in Mylan paying less in rebates and causing taxpayers to overpay as much as $1.27 billion over 10 years, according to one government estimate.

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