Nonprofit aims to reduce inflated prescription drug prices

For hundreds of hospitals and healthcare providers, the only way to address the rising cost of life-saving drugs is to take matters into their own hands — or at least — their own company.

According to a recent article published on the Good News Network website, a group of hospitals are leading the charge against mounting prescription drug prices through the creation of a nonprofit drug company.

Dubbed Civica Rx, the company includes seven organizations that act as governing members, including Mayo Clinic, SSM Health and Intermountain Healthcare, the article said.

The U.S. Department of Veteran’s Affairs also will consult with Civica Rx, alongside more than 120 health organizations that have expressed interest in the new company.

“We are creating a public asset with a mission to ensure that essential generic medications are accessible and affordable,” said Martin VanTrieste, former chief quality officer for Amgen, one of the world’s largest pharmaceutical companies, in the Good News Network article. “This will improve the situation for patients by bringing much needed competition to the generic drug market.”

VanTrieste has been named CEO of Civica Rx.

The nonprofit’s plan to have a generic drug available on the market by early next year is quite ambitious, states a Sept. 6 Fortune magazine article.

The firm plans to target 14 specific generic drugs administered in hospitals, counting on the fact that as a nonprofit, no benefit exists to artificially inflate or randomly hike prices.

But Fortune also points out although the Food and Drug Administration under Commissioner Scott Gottlieb has made expediting the drug approval process a key mission, trying to hit the market so quickly could be challenging.

Organizations partner to address prescription drug prices

Making prescription drugs more affordable has long been a high priority among healthcare providers nationwide.

More than 700 hospital CEOs petitioned Congress on Oct. 2 to protect a healthcare safety net aimed at reducing drug costs for low-income patients, according to Becker’s Hospital Review.

The drug pricing program — 340B — was enacted in 1992 to allow hospitals and other organizations that treat large numbers of low-income and uninsured patients to purchase certain prescription drugs from manufacturers at a discount.

The American Hospital Association and several other health organizations and hospitals refiled a lawsuit in September against U.S. Department of Health and Human Services in an effort to undo $1.6 billion in cuts to 340B.

“Americans are right to be upset with the high prices being charged for new and existing drugs and cutting back the 340B program would make these problems much worse,” the hospital CEOs wrote in the petition. “We are concerned about recent regulatory actions that have reduced the reach of this vital program and by legislative proposals that would undo more than two decades of bipartisan work to preserve the healthcare safety net.”

According to Business Insider, VanTrieste, who has been retired from the pharmaceutical industry for two years, has asked not to be compensated for his work at Civica. Money that would have been slated for his salary will go toward the nonprofit.

Civica Rx’s website states the company is partnering with the American Hospital Association’s Center for Health Innovation to address inquiries about the initiative.

Courses related to ‘prescription drugs’

Generic Drugs: Reducing the Cost of Care
(1 contact hr)
Generic drugs have been lifesaving for many Americans faced with dire financial situations and no comprehensive medical coverage. On average, a brand-name drug costs at least three or four times the price of a generic drug, and for someone who takes multiple drugs every day, the costs can be prohibitively high. To make the approval process shorter and efficient, the Drug Price Competition and Patent Term Restoration Act (also known as the Hatch-Waxman Act) was passed. This law allowed an abbreviated new drug application as long as the manufacturer was able to show that the generic drug had 1) the same ingredients, 2) the same route of administration, 3) a similar dosage and 4) a similar strength as the brand-name drug. Many prescribers do not prescribe generics out of habit or out of concern that the generic may not be safe or effective. In some cases, prescribers have no idea that generic counterparts exist and consequently never bother to write it on the prescription. APNs with prescriptive authority must be informed about use of generic drugs. Patients may also be reluctant to use generic drugs, and RNs play a critical role in educating them about generic drug usage.

Prescription Drug Abuse: Know the Danger Signs
(1 contact hr)
The non-medical use of prescription drugs has been increasing rapidly in recent years. In 2011 there were 5.1 million drug-related ED visits, with almost one-half (49% or 2.5 million visits) attributed to drug misuse or abuse. Among visits involving drug misuse or abuse, 1.4 million visits involved pharmaceuticals.1 ED visits involving misuse or abuse of pharmaceuticals increased from 2004 (626,470 visits) through 2011 (1.4 million visits); the most common drugs involved were anti-anxiety and insomnia medications and narcotic pain relievers (160.9 and 134.8 visits per 100,000 population, respectively).

Legal Landscape of Electronic Prior Authorization (ePA) and Its Effect on Patients and Providers
(1 contact hr)
The goal of this presentation is to discuss ePA mandates, points of access to ePA, the role of plans, and the effect of ePA solutions on patient care and outcomes. Upon completion of the webinar, participants will be able to explain the electronic prescription drug prior authorization process and recall named standards, identify states that have legislation surrounding electronic submission of PA requests, describe requirements of various PA legislation, identify access points to ePA solutions and the effect of ePA legislation on prior authorization process, discuss the current state of ePA availability and adoption re: different factors, and explain prior authorization workflow to patients/caregivers.

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