Dec 19, 2019

Trump's moves on drug importation, may not achieve much

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Even if the Trump administration is able to implement its latest plan to let people import prescription drugs from Canada, it probably won't make much of a difference, experts say.

Between the lines: Canada doesn't have nearly enough drugs to meet American demand, and even if it did, it doesn't want to send them to us at the expense of its own market.

Details: The administration unveiled two paths to importation yesterday.

  • States, wholesalers or pharmacists can ask the federal government to approve a demonstration project, only including certain drugs, only from Canada.
  • Drug companies could import their own products from other countries, at the lower prices they charge there.

Yes, but: "Canada is a much smaller country than is the United States ... and at least some stakeholders have argued that the Canadian market cannot supply medicines to the much larger US market without experiencing drug shortages," Washington University law professor Rachel Sachs wrote in Health Affairs over the summer.

Go deeper: We can't just take Canada's drugs

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California's bold new drug pricing plan

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

California Gov. Gavin Newsom wants the state to become the first to create its own generic drug label, an attempt to create more competition and bring down prices.

The big picture: California already has enacted insurance reforms that could be a model for the federal government, and is now doing the same on drug prices.

Go deeperArrowJan 10, 2020

A venture capitalist wants to mimic blockbuster drugs at a lower price

A venture capitalist is launching a company today to create new drugs that mimic the effects of blockbuster drugs, and then sell them to insurers and hospital systems at a lower price, STAT reports.

Between the lines: The key question is whether insurers and hospitals will buy these new drugs over their competitors.

Go deeperArrowJan 13, 2020

The medications that are thrown away

Data: Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services; Table: Axios Visuals

Last year, Medicare paid for $725 million worth of expensive medications administered in outpatient clinics — things like chemotherapy drugs — that ended up being discarded, according to new data released by the federal government.

Why it matters: Although that amount is just 2% of what Medicare paid for those types of infusion drugs, that's still a "very astonishing amount of waste," said Rena Conti, a health economist at Boston University who has studied the issue.

Go deeperArrowJan 6, 2020