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What We’re Reading: 340B Drugs Marked Up; Minnesota Nurses Strike; Cancer Drug Tops Chemotherapy


340B hospitals are marking up discounted drugs by 4.9 times the cost, per a Community Oncology Alliance report; thousands of nurses in Minnesota are striking due to understaffing and overworking; Amgen’s sotorasib performed better than a common chemotherapy for progression-free survival among patients.

340B Hospitals Significantly Mark Up Discounted Drugs

A report by the Community Oncology Alliance reveals that hospitals participating in the 340B Drug Discount Program that are located in underserved communities are marking up discounted drugs by up to 11 times the cost. According to self-reported pricing data from these hospitals, top oncology drugs are being priced an average 4.9 times their 340B acquisition costs, after an assumed 34.7% discount. The report also shows that markups vary by drug, with tisagenlecleucel (Kymriah) having the lowest average markup of 3.2 times the cost and fulvestrant (Faslodex) having the highest, at 11.3 times the cost. After excluding 3 chimeric antigen receptor T-cell therapies, the median markup was slightly higher at 5.0 times the 340B hospital acquisition costs.

Minnesota Nurses Striking Due to Staffing Shortage

Around 15,000 nurses in Minnesota began a strike Monday to protest issues surrounding understaffing and overworking at the state’s hospitals. The Washington Post reports this marks the largest private-sector nurses strike in US history. It is expected to last 3 days, with signs pointing to potential strikes in other states. This strike puts the focus on nursing shortages across the United States that have been worsened due to the COVID-19 pandemic, with nurses saying they cannot give their patients adequate care. Minnesota nurses claim some hospital units lack a lead nurse on duty and nurses that just completed their education are being given assignments typically held by more experienced nurses. The nurses on strike are demanding a role in staffing plans, changes to shift scheduling procedures, and higher wages.

Sotorasib Performs Better Than Common Chemotherapy

Amgen has revealed data highlighting the benefits and limitations of its new lung cancer drug, sotorasib (Lumakras), The Wall Street Journal reports. The pill performed better than the common chemotherapy docetaxel in a late-stage study to help patients survive longer without their tumors worsening. According to the report, 25% of patients who received sotorasib lived for at least 1 year without their cancer worsening vs 10% of patients who received docetaxel. However, the study could not prove the oral medication reduced overall deaths.

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