Happy Constitution Day!

Today is the 227th anniversary of the signing of the U.S. Constitution, a quite remarkable governing document, and the FEHBlog has returned to DC from his trip to the Northeast. Also of note, the Washington Nationals clinched the National Division Eastern Division title last night down in Atlanta. Go Nats.

Yesterday, the Wall Street Journal reported that Gilead Sciences struck a deal with  Indian generic drug manufacturers to manufacture their Hepatitis C drug Sovaldi for sale in third world countries like Honduras, Vietnam, and South Africa, for a fraction of the $1,000 per day cost here in the U.S. The FEHBlog applauds Gilead for its philanthropy. However, the article reiterates Gilead’s pricing philosophy for this country —

Sovaldi is on pace to become one of the world’s top-selling drugs, with more than $10 billion in sales this year. In the U.S., a 12-week-supply costs $84,000, which some critics say is too high for a lifesaving drug. Gilead has said the price is comparable to the cost of older, inferior treatments, and will stave off more costly health services like liver transplants.

Because the FEHBlog appreciates that price and cost are independent variables, he recognizes that the price of Solvadi does not have to be based on its cost but under this approach the cost curve will never go down.  

Warning — According to this Medical Marketing and Media article, CVS Health reports that 8% of its customers on Sovaldi unilaterally have stopped taking the drug before the end of treatment. CVS suggests the need for more patient support.

Medical Dive reports on recent CMS findings about accountable care organization performance which it describes as a “mixed bag.”

Let’s wrap things up for today with a couple tidbits:

  • The Physicians’ Foundation released the results of a biennial survey of 20,000 physicians. The survey confirms widespread unhappiness with the electronic medical record systems for which the federal government has shelled out $24 billion. Moreover,

81 percent of physicians describe themselves as either over-extended or at full capacity, while only 19 percent indicate they have time to see more patients. Forty-four percent of physicians surveyed plan to take steps that would reduce patient access to their services, including cutting back on patients seen, retiring, working part-time, closing their practice to new patients or seeking non-clinical jobs, leading to the potential loss of tens of thousands of full-time-equivalents (FTEs). [Rur-roh]

  • The Bipartisan Policy Center has created a CEO Council on Health and Innovation which has its own website. According BenefitsPro

The [new Council’s report urges employers to take three steps immediately that would support their overarching objectives:

  • Both implement and track the outcomes of their health and wellness programs;
  • Collaborate on the implementation of community-based programs;
  • Improve the health care system by supporting the movement toward transparency and payment and delivery models that are based on outcomes rather than volume.