Thursday, March 31, 2022 | Kaiser Health News

Insulin Cost-Capping Bill Goes To House Floor Today

Also, the Washington Post reports on the death of Arthur D. Riggs, a medical researcher whose recombinant DNA experiments helped develop synthetic insulin. Meanwhile, a Food and Drug Administration panel concluded an experimental ALS drug from Amylyx hadn’t proved effective.

The Hill: House To Vote Thursday On Bill To Cap Cost Of Insulin

The House is expected to vote Thursday on legislation aimed at capping the price of insulin, Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) announced. Hoyer told reporters on Wednesday that it’s “inexcusable” people are being charged exorbitant prices for “a life-saving and life-sustaining drug whose costs [have] not increased and whose research costs have been amortized a very long period of time ago.” (Marcos, 3/30)

Atlanta Journal-Constitution: US House Set To Vote On Insulin Price Cap Championed By Warnock, McBath

A measure intended to bring down the cost of insulin for people with diabetes is headed to the US House floor for a vote Thursday. US Rep. Lucy McBath, D-Marietta, is one of the primary sponsors of the House legislation, and Georgia Democratic US Sen. Raphael Warnock helped reignite the conversation after President Joe Biden’s social spending and climate change legislation, known as Build Back Better, faltered. The insulin cost controls were in that package that stalled due to opposition from Senate Republicans and two moderate Democrats. Warnock is among several lawmakers who introduced stand-alone legislation to cap insulin at $35 a month for most patients. (Mitchell, 3/30)

In related news —

The Washington Post: Arthur Riggs, Who Helped Develop Diabetes Treatment, Dies At 82

Arthur D. Riggs, a medical researcher whose experiments with recombinant DNA led to the development of synthetic insulin for diabetes patients and helped launch the biotechnology industry, died March 23 at a hospital in Duarte, Calif. He was 82. His death was announced by the City of Hope, a medical center and research institute in Duarte with which Dr. Riggs was affiliated for more than 50 years. The cause was lymphoma. (Schudel, 3/30)

In updates from the FDA —

Stat: FDA Advisory Panel Concludes Amylyx ALS Drug Hasn’t Proven Effective

By a narrow margin, an independent panel of advisers to the Food and Drug Administration decided on Wednesday that data from a single trial of an experimental drug developed by Amylyx Pharmaceuticals were not sufficient to conclude the therapy was an effective treatment against ALS. The vote was 6-4 — closer than many expected given the FDA’s previously stated position that data from a single clinical trial of the Amylyx drug, called AMX0035, showed only a modest benefit and “may not be sufficiently persuasive” to support approval. (Flintstone and Florko, 3/30)

The Boston Globe: FDA Advisory Vote Casts Pall Over The Future Of Amylyx’s Experimental ALS Drug

An independent panel of neurologists that advises the US Food and Drug Administration voted 6 to 4 Wednesday against recommending the agency approve a Cambridge company’s experimental therapy for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, also called Lou Gehrig’s disease. The drug, produced by Amylyx Pharmaceuticals, slowed progression of the disease by 25 percent and improved survival a median of 4.8 months compared with placebo, according to the company. In what many described a difficult decision, a narrow majority of panel members were not convinced that Amylyx’s small clinical trial, which involved 137 ALS patients, proved the drug’s effectiveness. (Cross, 3/30)

In other pharmaceutical industry news —

Stat: Health Tech Companies Take Aim At Alzheimer’s, With Pharma Still Struggling

In the wake of the first Alzheimer’s drug approval in nearly two decades, pharmaceutical companies have been reinvigorated in their effort to tackle the neurodegenerative disease. But as Aduhelm takes its first stuttering steps on the market, it’s clear pharma’s struggles are far from over — leaving an opening for a crop of software and device companies to take aim. “There’s been a big spike in investment in digital therapeutics that are targeting Alzheimer’s,” said Martin Culjat, a digital medicine consultant at Eversana who advises multiple companies developing the non-pharmacological therapies. “A lot of that has been driven by the challenges in getting these drugs approved.” (Palmer, 3/31)

Stat: Pharma Companies Face Shareholder Proposals To Widen Access To Drugs

Over the next few weeks, several major pharmaceutical companies will face a fresh crop of shareholder proposals that would require them to take steps to widen access to their medicines, an issue that is drawing increasing attention from investors. The proposals address such topics as making Covid-19 medical products more accessible, aligning lobbying with public policy goals for promoting greater affordability, and reigning in anticompetitive practices. Another proposal would require feasibility studies for transferring technology and know-how that could be used by generic manufacturers to make needed products for low-income countries. (Silverman, 3/30)

CNBC: Next Decade Will Transform Health Care More Than Past Century: J&J CEO

Joaquin Duato, the new CEO of Johnson & Johnson, is comfortable enough in his new position at the 135-year-old company to issue a bold claim just a few months into the job and during his first interview: he predicts the next decade will see more health-care transformation than occurred during the past century. Duato, the first non-US born CEO for the company, and first to hold dual citizenship (Spain and US), has been with J&J for three decades and was at one point the chief information officer of its pharmaceuticals business, giving him key insights into the role of technology in health care. (Rosenbaum, 3/30)

KHN: Despite Doctors’ Concerns, Pharmacists Get More Leeway To Offer Treatment With Testing

When Reyna or Justin Ansley or one of their three kids feels sick and needs to be tested for strep throat or flu, there’s a good chance they’ll head to their local pharmacy in Hemingford or Alliance, Nebraska. Dave Randolph, the proprietor of both locations of Dave’s Pharmacy, can do a rapid test, give them medicine if they need it, and send them on their way. “I’m a cattle rancher,” said Reyna Ansley, whose family lives about 15 miles outside Hemingford. “You don’t necessarily have the time to drive to the doctor and sit in the waiting room. It’s really quicker through Dave.” (Andrew, 3/31)

On the opioid crisis —

Stat: CVS, Teva, And Allergan Reach Deal With Florida Over The Opioid Crisis

On the eve of a trial, the state of Florida has reached a settlement with a major pharmacy chain and two drug manufacturers over their roles in fomenting the opioid crisis that has gripped the United States for more than two decades. CVS Health will pay $484 million, and Allergan—a unit of AbbVie—agreed to pay $134 million to settle a lawsuit filed by the state. In addition, Teva Pharmaceuticals will pay $195 million, and also provide $84 million worth of its generic version of Narcan, a nasal spray that is used to treat opioid overdoses in emergencies. (Silverman, 3/30)

AP: West Virginia Reaches $26M Settlement With Opioid Maker Endo

West Virginia will receive $26 million in a settlement with the opioid maker Endo Health Solutions for the company’s role in perpetuating the state’s drug epidemic, the attorney general’s office said Wednesday. The announcement comes less than a week before the state is set to go to trial on Monday against three opioid manufacturers: Janssen Pharmaceuticals Inc., Teva Pharmaceuticals Inc. and Allergan. (Willingham, 3/30)

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