PHARMACY

Dems attempt legislation to require gov’t to negotiate Medicare drug prices

BY Drew Buono

WASHINGTON Democratic leaders have introduced legislation in the House and Senate that would require the government to negotiate drug prices for a new Medicare-run drug plan under Medicare Part D.

The bills, S. 2219 and H.R. 3932, would offer a Medicare-operated drug plan to patients as an alternative to those run by private insurance companies. The Health and Human Services secretary would have to negotiate with pharmaceutical companies over the price for all of the drugs covered under the Medicare-administered plan.

Recent attempts to allow the government to negotiate drug prices under Part D have not gone far. H.R. 4, the Medicare Prescription Drug Price Negotiation Act, passed the House despite a veto threat from the White House.

However, the bill stalled when a vote ended debate in the Senate on its companion bill, S. 3. Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., the bill’s sponsor, offered a motion to reconsider the bill later this session.

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Amgen cuts fewer jobs in R.I. than predicted

BY Allison Cerra

WEST GREENWICH, R.I. Despite last month?s reports that drug maker Amgen would lay off 450 employees from its Rhode Island staff, the number is proving to be lower, according to the Associated Press.

Instead, according to reports, Amgen cut 300 employees, after realizing that it needed more workers to help manufacture Enbrel, an arthritis drug.

Amgen has roughly 1,600 workers in Rhode Island. It plans to close one of its manufacturing plants by the end of the year.

The company plans to lay off 1,500 employees across the country as part of a major cost-cutting plan.

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Edwards suggests new drug ads wait for two years

BY Allison Cerra

LACONIA, N.H. Presidential hopeful John Edwards said Sunday he had outlined a plan to regulate prescription drug companies and their advertising. Edwards suggested that drug makers wait two years to begin advertising their new products to consumers since the cost of advertising has escalated to nearly $4 billion over the past decade.

The two-year delay would prevent television ads from driving consumers to drugs that haven’t been proven safe, said Edwards, who also would require drug companies to get Food and Drug Administration approval before launching major ad campaigns.

“I think two years makes sense. I think it gives enough time for a drug not just to have been tested in clinical trials but to be out among the public, to see what kind of adverse reactions there have been,’’ he told reporters afterward.

Edwards’ plan also includes augmented penalties for companies that violate truth-in-advertising laws, and would require companies to disclose more information about a drug’s side effects and effectiveness compared to placebos and less expensive alternative drugs.

The Democratic hopeful said this idea would ensure that “salesmanship is not trumping the facts, so people learn what the real risks are associated with these drugs,” Edwards said.

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