Tag: prescription drugs

Company Accounting Charges Will Reach $14 Billion

From the American Benefits Council, which represents large U.S. corporations, a news release, “Exorbitant accounting hit to businesses will continue unless health law’s retiree drug subsidy provision is reversed“:

“For months, the American Benefits Council, along with several employers and labor unions, warned that the retiree drug subsidy tax in the health care legislation would impose an enormous hit on company financial statements as soon as the bill was signed into law,” Council President James A. Klein said today. “The recent announcements by major U.S. companies have captured Wall Street’s attention, while the Obama Administration fails to acknowledge their significance. Since the president has made clear that job creation is his top priority, we urge the Administration and Congress to remove this obstacle to economic recovery.

And …

“Over the next several days, many companies will be compelled to either take a hit on their earnings or decide to move retirees into the Medicare Part D program.” Klein said. “As our recent research report clearly shows, as more retirees are moved from employer plans to Medicare Part D, government outlays will increase, and the shift from employer retiree drug subsidy programs to Medicare Part D is likely to be significant. In the end, this so-called revenue raising provision may actually cost the government money.” A separate study, conducted by the Towers Watson consulting firm, reported that unless companies change their benefit plans, the aggregate accounting charge would be nearly $14 billion.

Safe prediction, Mr. Klein. Today’s news is: “Boeing Expects $150 Million Charge In 1Q For Health-Revamp Impact.” More …

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Thank You, Pharmaceutical Companies! $80 Billion is a Big Deal

From the White House blog, “A Significant Breakthrough to Assist Our Seniors“:

Today, the President announced a landmark agreement with pharmaceutical companies, who pledged $80 billion in prescription drug discounts over the next 10 years. …[snip]

The President was joined by Senators Max Baucus and Chris Dodd, and introduced by AARP President Barry Rand, who called the plan a “new opportunity” for those who have been burdened by the costs of prescription drugs.

The agreement, which was reached between Sen. Baucus, Administration officials, and the nation’s pharmaceutical companies, will ultimately reduce the price of prescription drugs by half for millions of America’s seniors. As part of the upcoming health care reform legislation, drug manufacturers that participate in Medicare Part D will either pay a rebate to Medicare or offer a substantial discount of at least 50 percent on prescription drugs to seniors who fall within the infamous “doughnut hole”— payments between $2700 and $6153.75 not covered by Medicare. The deal will help close this unfair gap in coverage, providing relief for millions of seniors who have been burdened by these out-of-pocket expenses, making it easier for them to get the prescriptions that they need.

In addition to providing half-price discounts, the pharmaceutical companies will offer other discounts and savings to total an $80 billion reduction in costs.

The blog posts a photo of the President making the announcement flanked by Rand, Dodd and Baucus.

Hope the pharmaceutical industry leaders got their photo op, too. The agreement wouldn’t have been possible without their involvement, negotiation and agreement.

Here’s a statement from Billy Tauzin, President and CEO of the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA), on the announcement. Excerpt:

With the strong support of AARP, we believe this agreement will be looked back in time as a momentum changer in the legislative efforts to reform our troubled health care system. Our $80 billion pledge toward that goal represents a huge financial commitment by America’s pharmaceutical research and biotechnology companies. But we have a shared vision: every single person in America, regardless of their income, should have access to affordable, high-quality health care coverage and services.

More…

UPDATE: Here’s a transcript of the President’s statement. And his thanks to the pharmaceutical industry: “And I’m grateful to all those who helped make this day possible.”

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Wyeth v. Levine, Tragic Facts, a Bad Ruling

The Supreme Court today released its 6-3 opinion in Wyeth v. Levine, holding that a Vermont woman could sue in state court for harm caused by the improper injection of Phenergan anti-nausea drug, despite the FDA’s approval of the labeling of the drug. (Opinion here.)

Justice Alito, writing the dissent, says it well: “This case illustrates that tragic facts make bad law. The Court holds that a state tort jury, rather than the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), is ultimately responsible for regulating warning labels for prescription drugs.”

Andrew Grossman of the Heritage Foundation has an excellent post at Point of Law hitting the salient points, including the PR elements of the case:

Story after story (see, e.g., here and here) focused on Diana Levine, a musician who lost her arm to gangrene after being administered Phenergan, Wyeth’s drug, via IV-Push injection. But in that simple summary, so many facts are lost:

  • The drug’s label did warn about the risk of gangrene due to “intra-arterial injection”–exactly what happened to Levine.
  • The physician’s assistant who injected the case used a disfavored, though not contraindicated (i.e., banned) method of injecting the drug.
  • Twice the maximum labeled dose was injected.
  • The physician’s assistant continued to inject the drug despite Levine’s complaints of pain.
  • IV-push, the method of administration at issue in the case, is a particularly quick-acting and effective way to administer the drug, though it does carry with it some (labeled) risks, such as gangrene.

In short, then, this really wasn’t about “failure to warn”–because the warnings were there–but failure to outright ban a method of administration that already carries heavy warnings but that the FDA, balancing all the interests at stake, determined should still remain available.

So now individual trial juries in the separate states will, in effect, establish the nation’s regulatory regime for the administration of prescription drugs. The public will certainly not be served by the uncertainty, capricious awards and costs that result. Trial lawyers certainly will be served, as one can gather from the American Association for Justice’s release on the decision.

 

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