What We're Reading: Tufts Health Plan Removes Hepatitis C Drug Restrictions

What we're reading, April 20, 2016: Tufts Health Plan will pay for hepatitis C drugs for all patients with the disease; drug advertisements don't sway consumers; and Express Scripts countersues Anthem.

Tufts Health Plan, based in Massachusetts, will now pay for expensive hepatitis C drugs regardless of the patient’s disease stage. The change in policy comes amidst public outrage over insurers limiting the drugs to people with severe liver damage despite medical guidelines recommending treating nearly every infected person, according to The Boston Globe. Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts also pays for the hepatitis C drugs regardless of how much liver damage a patient has, but most insurers in Massachusetts require evidence of advanced liver disease.

Few consumers say drug advertisements prompt them to speak with a doctor about the medicine being promoted. With only 7% of people surveyed saying they spoke with a doctor about a drug after seeing the advertisement for it, people may not be swayed by direct-to-consumer advertising, reported STAT. However, spending on drug ads on TV was up 31% from 2014 to 2015 and the pharmaceutical industry spent $5.4 billion total on advertising last year.

Express Scripts is countersuing Anthem, which first sued the pharmacy benefit manager in March for allegedly violating its contract by refusing to renegotiate pricing terms. According to The Wall Street Journal, Express Scripts denied Anthem’s allegations and filed a lawsuit demanding unspecific damages from Anthem and a judgment that Anthem cannot end the contract. Express Scripts is now alleging that Anthem has refused to negotiate in good faith.

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