This Week in Managed Care: September 19, 2015

The top stories in managed care include the nomination for the next FDA commissioner, a report reveals cancer drugs are driving growth in the 340B program more than initially thought, and nearly half a billion in ACA funds are made available to health centers.

Hello, I’m Justin Gallagher, Associate Publisher of The American Journal of Managed Care.

Welcome to This Week in Managed Care, from the Managed Markets News Network.

Obama Nominates New FDA Commissioner

This week President Obama nominated Robert Califf, MD, to be the new FDA Commissioner, succeeding Margaret Hamburg, MD, who stepped down in February.

Dr Califf has served as the number-two person at the agency since January, and has been viewed as the likely nominee since Hamburg’s departure.

A cardiologist, Dr Califf has spent most of his career in academia, most recently at Duke, but he has served on FDA panels for several years.

340B Drug Program

Cancer drugs are driving growth in the 340B discount program more than previously thought. That’s the key finding of a new report sponsored by the Community Oncology Alliance and prepared by the Berkeley Research Group.

The report released this week confirmed findings from the Government Accountability Office that a program intended to help safety net hospitals has expanded too quickly in recent years, and is pushing community oncology practices out of business. The report showed how buying up oncology practices to make money off cancer drugs has become a business strategy for some 340B hospitals.

Ted Okon, executive director of COA, called cancer drugs the “pot of gold at the end of the rainbow” for these hospitals, and said Congress needs to reform the program.

Read our story on the report.

Negative View of Pharma Industry Gets Worse

Americans’ view of the pharmaceutical industry has taken another dive, according to a recent Gallup poll, and those with a negative view now outnumber those who view the industry in a positive light. Just 35% of Americans have a positive view of drug makers, down from 40% in 2014. Meanwhile, the share of those with a negative view has gone up from 36% to 43% in the past year.

Jim Norman of Gallup noted: “Prescription drug prices continue to rise in the US, driven partly by the introduction of specialty drugs that can cost as much as $150,000 annually. With few indications that costs will stabilize soon, this issue has moved back onto the national political scene.”

ACA Funds for Health Centers

HHS Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell this week announced that health centers around the country will receive $500 million through the Affordable Care Act to provide primary care services to those most in need. Funds can support outreach and enrollment activities for the next round of open enrollment that starts November 1, as well as help consumers understand if they are eligible for Medicaid. Burwell estimated that the health centers will assist 1.4 million people, allowing them to expand hours, hire dentists, and add more behavioral health staff.

Value Proposition in Oncology

The annual policy summit of the National Comprehensive Cancer Network featured panels with Drs Kavita Patel, Scott Gottlieb, Michael Kolodziej, and Joseph Alvarnas, the editor-in-chief of Evidence-Based Oncology. The summit on Value, Access and Cost of Cancer Care addressed the value proposition in oncology as the cost of therapy continues to climb.

Dr. Kavita Patel discussed how difficult it is to define value: “You want to define value and yet we don’t know what that is. With the complexities of cancer care, insurers too are struggling with what it’s going to look like.”

For additional coverage read the full article.

For the Managed Markets News Network, I’m Justin Gallagher. Thank you for joining us.

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