What We're Reading: Xarelto Settlement; Insulin Hearings; Soda Taxes

March 26, 2019

Johnson & Johnson and Bayer, who jointly sell the blood thinner drug Xarelto, settled lawsuits that claimed the companies failed to warn about potentially fatal side-effects for $775 million; the Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee of the House Energy and Commerce Committee have planned hearings in the coming weeks over the rising cost of insulin; the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Heart Association called for taxes, warning labels, and advertising curbs on soda in hopes to reduce consumption among children and adolescents.

Xarelto Lawsuits Settled for $775 Million

Rising Prices Spark April Insulin Hearings

Medical Groups Call for Taxes and Advertising Curbs on Soda

Drug manufacturers Johnson & Johnson and Bayer agreed yesterday to pay $775 million to settle approximately 25,000 lawsuits involving the blood thinner Xarelto, reported The New York Times. The settlement costs will be evenly split between both companies and will resolve state and federal cases in whixh patients sued claiming that the companies failed to warn them about potentially deadly side effects, such as fatal bleeding episodes. The companies prevailed in 6 corresponding lawsuits that went to trial and neither admitted liability for knowingly withholding important information. Janssen, the pharmaceutical division of Johnson & Johnson, said the company settled to avoid spending more time and resources on complex litigation.The Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee of the House Energy and Commerce Committee has planned hearings in mid-April over the rising cost of insulin, STAT reported in a newsletter Tuesday. While the committee has not formally announced the hearing, Representative Brett Guthrie, R-Kentucky, the ranking member on the subcommittee, first suggested the possibilty of the hearing in March, the outlet reported. It remains unclear whether insulin makers, Eli Lilly, Novo Nordisk, and Sanofi will be called to testify. Congress' attention to insulin pricing comes amid signs that follow-on insulin products are begining to save money. A research letter published yesterday in JAMA from drug pricing experts at the University of Pittsburgh, found that Basaglar, the first follow-on insulin product launched in the United States, has captured more than one-third of the Medicaid market but has seen less uptake in Medicare. Inmaculada Hernandez, the lead researcher in the JAMA paper, told STAT that Basaglar captured only 0.7% of the Medicare market in 2017, which may result from a rebate-trap that has been blamed for impeding the uptake of lower-cost products in Medicare.In an effort to deter young people from drinking soda, 2 top medical groups called for taxes, warning labels, and advertising curbs on sugary drinks that are contributing to the nation’s obesity and chronic disease crisis, according to The New York Times. The American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Heart Association describe soda as “a grave health threat to children and adolescents” and issued a bold set of recommendations they say are necessary to slow the epidemic of cancer, Type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and other diet-related illnesses that add billions of dollars in annual healthcare costs and cause thousands of early deaths. The recommendations are likely to be combatted by the beverage industry, which has fought government efforts to reduce consumption of drinks with high sugar content.