Generic drug makers are being accused of blocking a Congressional probe into their pricing practices; Illinois has become the first state to require insurance companies to pay for EpiPens for kids in cases of severe allergic reactions; Tufts Health Plan and Harvard Pilgrim Health will merge to create a new company covering 2.4 million people across New England.
Senator Bernie Sanders, I-Vermont, and Representative Elijah Cummings, D-Maryland, are renewing an investigation into Teva Pharmaceutical Industries, Mylan NV, and Heritage Pharmaceuticals based on allegations of “apparent coordinated obstruction” in failing to provide lawmakers information about their pricing practices. Sanders and Cummings sent letters to the drug makers, renewing their 2014 request, reported Bloomberg. The renewed probe comes after states earlier this year alleged that 20 drug makers conspired to raise the prices of more than 100 drugs, including commonly prescribed antibiotics.
Illinois has become the first state to require insurance companies to pay for EpiPens for kids in cases of severe allergic reactions, reported CNN. Signed into law on Wednesday by Governor JB Pritzker, the law will go into effect on January 1 and will require insurers in the state to cover the costs of “medically necessary epinephrine injectors for persons 18 years of age or under.” The law comes after a decade’s worth of price hikes on EpiPens; in 2009, a pair of injectors cost $100 and by 2016 cost $600.
Tufts Health Plan and Harvard Pilgrim Health have announced plans to merge to create a new company covering 2.4 million people across New England. The combined company will span 5 states and offer both private coverage and Medicare and Medicaid plans. The 2 insurers have tried to merge in the past, including in 2011, but the attempts eventually fell through. According to The Boston Globe, the merger will give the 2 insurers more leverage with powerful hospital systems and could up as the competition for Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts, the largest insurer in the state.