Shrinking Drug Coverage; Geriatric Care Training Investment; Escalated Patent Fight

Drug Coverage Changes Puts Americans in Medical, Monetary Bind

A recent review found that insurers are still raising consumer costs despite covering fewer drugs and putting more restrictions on their drug coverage, according to USA Today. More specifically, insurers are covering 19% fewer medications; the average plan in 2024 covered just 54% of prescribed drugs, but 25% of Americans had at least 1 prescription not covered, resulting in them paying full price. Also, in 2024, 50% of Medicare Part D plans had drug restrictions, which included quantity limits, step therapy, refill-too-soon limits, and prior authorization requirements. Lastly, other factors increasing out-of-pocket spending include soaring prescription drug prices, drug shortages, and pharmacy deserts. Consequently, the CDC found that 9.2 million adults reported not taking prescribed medications, instead skipping doses, delaying filling a prescription, or taking less than the prescribed dose.

Biden Administration Invests in Geriatric Care Training

Officials announced Monday that the Biden administration is investing hundreds of millions of dollars to train primary care clinicians on how to better serve older adults, according to Axios. Currently, the US is facing a shortage of geriatricians, or those who specialize in treating patients over age 65 years; a report from the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) shows that the US will be nearly 30,000 geriatricians short in 2025. Therefore, the HRSA said in a press release that training primary care providers in geriatrics will make it easier for older adults to receive necessary care. Consequently, the Biden administration gave about $206 million to 42 academic institutions across the US to assist with training primary care providers and helping family members and community caregivers learn how to care for aging loved ones; improving primary care is associated with lower overall health care costs.

FTC Escalates Patent Fight With Pharma by Opening Investigation into Teva

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has opened an investigation into Teva Pharmaceuticals after the company refused to take down about 2 dozen patents for its asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) inhalers, according to The Washington Post. Last week, the FTC sent a civil investigative demand to Teva, ordering the company to provide internal communications, analysis, and financial data related to the patents listed in a federal registry known as the Orange Book; Teva has until July 24 to cooperate with the FTC’s demand. This investigation is a significant escalation of the government’s fight with the pharmaceutical industry. It argues that companies like Teva have wrongly made minor tweaks to their products to maintain patents and fend off generic competition. In April, the FTC challenged hundreds of alleged “junk” patents held by drugmakers for 20 brand name drugs; it issued letters to 10 companies to warn them that certain patents were improperly listed.

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