Overnight Health Care — Presented by Kidney Care Partners — Drug company offers cheaper insulin | California first state to sue over Trump abortion rule | FDA calls out retailers for tobacco sales to minors

Overnight Health Care — Presented by Kidney Care Partners — Drug company offers cheaper insulin | California first state to sue over Trump abortion rule | FDA calls out retailers for tobacco sales to minors
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Welcome to Monday's Overnight Health Care.

Eli Lilly says it will introduce a generic version of insulin, the FDA is naming and shaming companies that sell tobacco to minors, and 22 states are filing lawsuits against the Trump administration's family planning rule.

We'll start with some big news on insulin:

 

Drug company announces cheaper insulin at half the price

The drug company Eli Lilly on Monday announced that it is introducing a cheaper version of its insulin that will sell at half the price, a decision aimed at tamping down the outcry over insulin prices.

The move comes in response to intense scrutiny of drug prices and particularly insulin, a decades-old drug that people with diabetes need that has seen huge price spikes in recent years. Eli Lilly is one of three companies that control 99 percent of the world's insulin.

The move received some measured praise from lawmakers in both parties on Monday, but they also stressed that much more needs to be done. According to the American Diabetes Association, the average price of insulin nearly tripled between 2002 and 2013 and then nearly doubled from 2012 to 2016.

The new strategy: Eli Lilly is following in the footsteps of two other major drug companies. Following outrage over massive price hikes, Mylan in 2016 introduced an authorized generic version of the EpiPen. Last year, Gilead did the same for two versions of its most expensive hepatitis C treatment.

Why it's important: About 7 million people across the country suffer from diabetes and need insulin to live. Lilly said it will sell a version if its most popular insulin brand, Humalog, for $137.35 per vial. Lilly's move could help calm the firestorm of controversy, but lawmakers and advocates stressed that they still expect drug companies to do more to cut high costs. The new version is helpful for people that don't have insurance, or people with high deductibles or high co-insurance.

What's the controversy: Eli Lilly's new insulin will be exactly the same product as the current version. Insurers do not actually pay that full price because they receive discounts known as rebates, and they will be paying about the same amount for the generic as for the brand name. The company could have just lowered the list price for everyone, but instead it is keeping a separate version with the much higher price. The higher list price means bigger rebates, so pharmacy benefit managers will have to decide if they want to stick with the expensive brand name and higher rebates, or use the generic.

Read more on Eli Lilly's move here

 

 

 

 

California first of 22 states to sue Trump over changes to family planning program

California Attorney General Xavier BecerraXavier BecerraHillicon Valley: Tim Cook visits White House | House hearing grapples with deepfake threat | Bill, Melinda Gates launch lobbying group | Tech turns to K-Street in antitrust fight | Lawsuit poses major threat to T-Mobile, Sprint merger Hillicon Valley: Tim Cook visits White House | House hearing grapples with deepfake threat | Bill, Melinda Gates launch lobbying group | Tech turns to K-Street in antitrust fight | Lawsuit poses major threat to T-Mobile, Sprint merger New lawsuit poses major threat to T-Mobile, Sprint merger MORE (D) filed a lawsuit Monday seeking to block the Trump administration's new policy that could strip millions of dollars from Planned Parenthood and other abortion providers.

California became the first state to sue over the policy, arguing that the rule would interfere with the practice of medicine and result in many providers going out of business.

"The Trump-Pence Administration has doubled down on its attacks on women's health," Becerra said in a statement.

Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum (D) separately announced Monday that she would lead 20 states and the District of Columbia in filing a national lawsuit against the rule on Tuesday.

The argument: Supporters of the rule note that the Supreme Court upheld a very similar version in 1991. But Becerra argues in this filing that the Trump administration's rule violates a provision of the Affordable Care Act, enacted decades after that ruling  that bans regulations that create "unreasonable barriers" to medical care.

More on the new court fight here.

 

FDA calls out retailers for selling tobacco products to minors

The Food and Drug Administration publicly put on notice retail stores that have repeatedly been caught illegally selling tobacco products, including e-cigarettes, to minors.

The agency on Monday named 15 national chains that had violation rates of at least 15 percent, including Marathon, Exxon, BP, Sunoco, Citgo, Shell and 7-Eleven.

The stores with the most violations were primarily major gas stations, convenience stores and retailers.

"The stakes are too high for our young people and our country's decades-long fight to reduce the morbidity and mortality that accompanies tobacco product use," FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb said in a statement. "Retailers are on the frontlines of these efforts to reduce the health consequences of tobacco use and nicotine dependence."

Gottlieb also requested a meeting with the corporate management of Walgreens "to discuss whether there is a corporate-wide issue related to their stores' track record of violating the law by illegally selling tobacco products to kids."

Read the rest of the story on FDA's efforts here.

 

Top White House official warns hospitals on surprise medical bills

A top White House policy adviser on Monday warned hospitals that they need to address the issue of surprise medical bills if they don't want Congress to do it for them.

"If hospitals, providers and issuers don't protect these patients from financial harm, Congress and the administration will need to act," said Joe Grogan, director of the White House Domestic Policy Council.

Grogan was speaking at the Federation of American Hospitals' annual conference in Washington.

Calls for action against so-called surprise medical bills have been growing, and legislation to protect patients from surprise medical bills is seen as one of the most likely areas for bipartisan action on health care this year.

More on the warning here.

 

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The Hill event

On Wednesday, March 6th, The Hill hosts "Overcoming Obstacles: Patient Access to Innovation" at the Newseum. Speakers include FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb and Matt Salo, executive director of the National Association of Medicaid Directors. Editor-in-Chief Bob Cusack and Peter Sullivan will sit down with our speakers and moderate a series of discussions about keeping the patient at the center of the drug delivery system. RSVP here.

 

What we're reading

Purdue Pharma prepping for possible bankruptcy filing (The Wall Street Journal)

Big Pharma gave money to patient advocacy groups opposing Medicare changes (Kaiser Health News)

A single-payer advocate answers the big question: How do we pay for it? (Vox)

 

State by state

Nursing homes are closing across rural America, scattering residents (The New York Times)

Alaska sued over Medicaid application backlog (KTUU)

Senate committee votes to permanently shorten retroactive Medicaid eligibility (Miami Herald)

Life and limb: inside the Rio Grande Valley's amputation crisis (Texas Observer)

 

From The Hill's opinion page

New domestic gag rule limits the health care women receive