What We're Reading: Pharma Executives Brush Off Drug Price Anger

What we're reading, January 13, 2016: at a recent healthcare investor conference pharmaceutical company executives showed no concern over public outrage of rising drug prices; the American Hospital Association urges MedPAC withdraw 340B payment proposal; and California lawmaker reintroduces "right-to-try" bill.

Pharmaceutical executives brushed off public outrage over the high cost of drugs during presentations at the 34th annual JP Morgan Healthcare conference in San Francisco. STAT reported that Gregg Alton, the executive vice president for corporate and medical affairs at Gilead Sciences, said he sleeps quite well when he was asked how he lives with himself. An executive at the industry group BIO called public anger at drug companies “an abomination” and Gilead’s president said drug pricing concerns aren’t a real issue but a “campaign issue.”

The American Hospital Association has written to the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission (MedPAC) to urge it to withdraw recommendations to reduce drug payments to hospitals participating in the 340B Drug Pricing Program. According to the letter, the recommendation penalizes certain hospitals for being able to obtain discounts. MedPAC is expected to vote on the payment proposal later this week.

Although California Governor Jerry Brown rejected last year a bill that would let terminally patients access experimental drugs, a lawmaker intends to reintroduce the legislation. The proposal would let patients with life-threatening diseases obtain recommendation from 2 doctors so they could try drugs that haven’t yet been approved by the FDA, according to LA Times.