What We're Reading: Pharma to Testify at Drug Pricing Hearing; Netflix Model for Hep C Drug; Marijuana and Other Drugs

February 7, 2019

At least 4 chief exeuctive officers from pharmaceutical companies will testify at a Senate drug pricing hearing later this month; Washington becomes the second state to try a subscription-based model for purchasing hepatitis C drugs; and data suggest that marijuana lowers use of alcohol and other drugs.

Pharma to Testify at Senate Drug Pricing Hearing

Chief executive officers from at least 4 drug makers will testify at a Senate hearing on prescription drug prices, with CEOs from Pfizer, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Sanofi, and Merck agreeing to testify later this month. According to Reuters, Johnson & Johnson said that their head of global pharmaceuticals will testify, as well. AbbVie and AstraZeneca were also invited by Committee Chair Senator Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, and Senator Ron Wyden, D-Oregon, to send executives.

Washington Adopts Netflix Model for Hepatitis C Drug

In January, Louisiana became the first state to implement what’s being called a Netflix subscription model to buy hepatitis C drugs in order to cope with the cost of the treatments, and Washington has followed suit, reported STAT News. The state is hoping to convince drug makers to offer the treatments in return for subscription-based payments. Last month, the state Health Care Authority began seeking bids from drug makers to offer a guaranteed net unit price for Medicaid beneficiaries and a similarly low price for state employees.

Marijuana Decreases Use of Alcohol, Other Prescription Drugs

Adding to data demonstrating that marijuana is associated with reduced use of opioids and opioid abuse, The Hill has reported that emerging data are pointing to the drug lowering the use of other substances, including alcohol, tobacco, and benzodiazepines. The news outlet cited a survey from last month that found that nearly 70% of respondents said they substituted marijuana for prescription medications, primarily opioids; 45% substituted the drug for alcohol; and 31% substituted the drug for tobacco.