Today's News and Commentary

About pharma

The big news from yesterday was the testimony of drug execs about why prices are high and what can be done about the problem. In short, they said prices were high because of R&D costs. When confronted with the fact that prices are lower in other countries, they said those countries have price controls. When asked if they would lower prices if the rebate system were changed they gave a qualified yes. But, of course, they said blame should be placed on Pharmaceutical Benefit Managers (so-called middle men) and insurance companies who demand the rebates. In sum, nothing new and we will see if anything but posturing will come from this meeting. Of the many articles summarizing exactly what happened, I think the two below are best.

The Health 202: Congress could have been tougher on drug executives
Big Pharma grilled on the Hill: International pricing, AbbVie CEO's bonus and bye-bye rebates

GOP lawmaker says panel to investigate drug company gaming of patent system: On a related issue is this announcement about looking at patent gaming to prolong profitability. For example, Abbvie has more than 100 patents on its top seller Humira.

Read the announcement

About devices

FDA, CDC, and CMS launch task force to help facilitate rapid availability of diagnostic tests during public health emergencies: The title explains the content of the announcement. This launch presents an outstanding opportunity for medical diagnostic companies to create useful and profitable products.

Read the announcement

About insurance

U.S. House Democrats introduce sweeping 'Medicare for All' bill: House of Representative “Progressives” have offered their version of “Medicare for All.” Unlike some of the buy-in proposals making Medicare available for all, this one would create a true single payer system. Two features make this bill improbable for both passage and success: a 2 year implementation timeline and, according to the article, it “does not include new or increased taxes or other additional revenues to pay for the healthcare overhaul.” Lead sponsor Pramila Jayapal said possible ways to pay for the bill include “a tax on millionaires and billionaires, employer premiums and closing tax loopholes for the wealthy.” Does she think that is anywhere near enough money when the current Medicare system has less than 10 years solvency left?

Read the article

About hospitals

New Survey Shows Physicians Are Key Revenue Generators for Hospitals: A new survey by Merritt Hawkins finds that, on average, physicians bring in $2,378,727 per year for hospitals. This figure “includes both net inpatient and outpatient revenue derived from hospital admissions, tests, treatments, prescriptions, and procedures performed or ordered by physicians.” Of course there is a large spread. “Full-time cardiovascular surgeons generate an average of $3,697,916 a year…[while] family physicians generate an average of $2,111,931 in net revenue annually for their affiliated hospitals.”

Read the survey results