The Catalyst

Medicare Monday: What does Medicare Part B Cover?

Posted by Allyson Funk on August 31, 2015 at 9:00 AM

You’ve probably heard the Medicare alphabet before: Part A, Part B, Part D and more. But what does all of it mean? We talk a lot about the Medicare Part D prescription drug benefit here on Medicare Monday, but what about the rest of the Medicare alphabet? Today, we’re tackling Medicare Part B and what it covers.

First, Medicare Part B is commonly referred to as the Medicare medical benefit and covers a wide range of health care services. Medicare Part B covers physician office visits, outpatient care, ambulance services and medical equipment like a wheelchair or walker. To learn more about what Medicare covers, check out Medicare.gov.

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Topics: Part D, Medicare, Medicare Monday

10 Years Later: Lessons Learned from Hurricane Katrina

Posted by Allyson Funk on August 28, 2015 at 2:50 PM

Ten years ago today I was lucky to have evacuated from New Orleans to Atlanta and sat waiting to see what would happen with the storm of the century. Having evacuated countless times before, I could only hope this would be another false alarm. But waking up to see my city under siege and the devastation wrought by the storm across the Gulf Coast, everyone knew this was only the beginning. The road to recovery would be a long one.

Hurricane Katrina taught us, taught America, a lot of lessons. One of those lessons was about preparedness and the need for coordinated help when disaster strikes.

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Topics: Natural Disaster

Week in Review: The Latest from PhRMA

Posted by Priscilla VanderVeer on August 28, 2015 at 12:00 PM

Developing New Medicines:  Innovative medicines offer hope to patients and bring value to the health care system, but developing these new treatments is a rigorous, lengthy and costly process, and more obstacles may be on the horizon.

  • Take a look at our new video and infographic to learn more about why developing a new drug is harder than rocket science.
  • There’s a lot that can be missed when you take a very limited look at the FDA’s drug approval process. Read more about the parts that weren’t addressed in a recent Forbes’ story. 
  • Learn more about the surprising supporters of state proposals to enact price controls and why those efforts could further inhibit progress towards innovative treatments and cures.

Free Trade Agreements May Be Good For Your Health:  A new report by the Geneva Network titled “Trading for Health: Quantifying the Impact of Free Trade Agreements on Health Outcomes” demonstrates that trade openness and Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) yield overall positive health outcomes and socio-economic benefits. Learn more here.

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Topics: diabetes, trade, Forbes

Free Trade Agreements May Be Good For Your Health

Posted by Mark Grayson on August 27, 2015 at 3:00 PM

A new report by the Geneva Network titled “Trading for Health: Quantifying the Impact of Free Trade Agreements on Health Outcomes” recently called into question many claims being made by groups opposing the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). Among the report’s most interesting conclusions, the authors found that trade openness and Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) actually improved health outcomes.

In particular, the study notes that several FTAs in the last 15 years contain intellectual property (IP) provisions for innovative biopharmaceuticals that are more robust than the minimums established in the TRIPS agreement, and disproved claims that stronger IP protections have undermined access to medicines.

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Topics: IP, TPP, trade

Ask About Adherence: Q&A with The Peter Lamy Center for Drug Therapy and Aging

Posted by Samantha Dougherty on August 27, 2015 at 12:00 PM

Ask About Adherence is a blog series featuring Q&A’s with experts in medication adherence. In this post, we speak with Bruce Stuart, PhD, executive director of the Peter Lamy Center for Drug Therapy and Aging and professor in pharmaceutical health services research about his recently published article “Does good medication adherence really save payers money?” Dr. Stuart set out to determine to what degree medicines reduce medical spending by comparing Medicare spending among Part D enrollees with diabetes who were adherent to their medications to those who were not. His analysis found that there is a substantial benefit even when taking the healthy adherer effect into consideration – up to $6400 a year per person.

Stay tuned for the next Q&A and be sure to share your thoughts in the comments section below. We’d love to hear from you on ways to improve medication adherence!

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Topics: adherence, Part D, Medicare, #Adherence123s, Ask About Adherence

Burden on Patients: 5 Questions on Access to Diabetes Medicines in Health Exchange Plans

Posted by Allyson Funk on August 27, 2015 at 9:00 AM

Patients, especially those suffering from chronic conditions, deserve access to the medicines they need to live longer, healthier lives. Today, PhRMA released a new fact sheet on access to diabetes medicines in exchange plans in 2015 (2014 fact sheet is available here). The fact sheet highlights some of the potential barriers to accessing needed treatments. Learn more on AccessBetterCoverage.org, in our patient profiles and our other fact sheets.

This is the fifth post in our Burden on Patients Q&A series with patient advocates. To learn more, we talked with Larry Hausner, longtime patient advocate, former CEO of the American Diabetes Association and chief patient advocate for the Partnership to Fight Chronic Disease.


Question (Allyson Funk): Can you tell me about you, your career representing patients and what you’ve learned over the years representing patients with diabetes?

Answer (Larry Hausner): I worked, as the CEO of the American Diabetes Association (ADA) for seven years and during that time the most important thing to me was to make sure that the needs of diabetes patients were represented in what we were doing. We tried to do everything we could to better the quality of life for those with the disease. That includes Type 1 and Type 2 patients as well as those with gestational diabetes. Over time we wanted to make sure when you looked at any aspect of a person with diabetes’ life that the American Diabetes Association was there to help.

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Topics: Access, diabetes, ACA, exchanges, Access Better Coverage, ABCs of Coverage

Video & Infographic: Developing a new drug is actually harder than rocket science

Posted by Holly Campbell on August 26, 2015 at 11:43 AM

Prescription medicines save lives and cut health care costs, but conjuring a drug to life is a challenging undertaking – and the science is only getting harder. 

While it may sound counterintuitive, as our understanding of science grows, so does the complexity of developing new medicines -- particularly as treatments are increasingly tailored to the unique needs of individual patients. Failure is an inherent part of this complex process and the odds of success are low -just 12 percent of drugs entering clinical trials ever making it to patients. And thousands won’t even make it past the early discovery and pre-clinical testing stages.

Our new video explains how through failure, comes success. For example in the past 16 years, there were more than 100 unsuccessful attempts to develop medicines to treat Alzheimer’s disease, 96 for melanoma and 167 for lung cancer. During this same period, 3 medicines were approved to treat Alzheimer’s, 7 for melanoma and 10 for lung cancer.

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Topics: R&D, drug cost, cost

A New Way to Picture Progress Against Cancer

Posted by Guest Contributor on August 26, 2015 at 9:00 AM

Conversations and healthy debate about issues facing our industry and the health care system are critical to addressing some of today’s challenges and opportunities. The Catalyst welcomes guest contributors including patients, stakeholders, innovators and others to share their perspectives and point of view. Like in our Conversations series, views represented here may not be those of PhRMA, though they are no less key to a healthy dialogue on issues in health care today. 

To continue the dialogue about progress made in the fight against cancer, we’re pleased to host a guest blog from Jacqueline Ferguson, senior director of Global Oncology Corporate Affairs, Eli Lilly and Company. In this capacity she also leads Lilly Oncology's PACE initiative.

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Topics: Value, Innovation, cancer, Healthy Outlook

The drug development and approval process is about much more than the final “okay”

Posted by Tina Stow on August 24, 2015 at 4:57 PM

A recent Forbes story not only presents an oddly limited look at the U.S.’s drug development process, it also sends a misleading message to America’s patients and health care professionals.

“The FDA Is Basically Approving Everything. Here's The Data To Prove It,” the story headlines. But when you read further, the piece’s thin thesis falls apart – mainly because it only looks at one, final moment in the drug development process: the approvals themselves.

Were a reader to open the aperture to include the entire drug development and approval process, they would find that the data – and the story – change dramatically.

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Topics: Medicines in Development, FDA, Drug Development, Clinical Trials, healthcare professionals, PDUFA, Forbes

Who is pushing for price controls? The answer may surprise you

Posted by Priscilla VanderVeer on August 24, 2015 at 12:07 PM

Progress in medical innovation over the past few years has been nothing short of remarkable.

  • A once incurable disease – hepatitis C – now has cure rates above 90 percent.
  • Patients previously unable to effectively manage their cholesterol with existing treatments now have new therapies that can help control their cholesterol and reduce their risk of heart disease or stroke.
  • HIV/AIDs has gone from a death sentence to a chronic manageable condition.
  • And new medicines are taking on the fight against cancer in ways that were once thought impossible. With more than 7,000 medicines in development around the world today, patients have more reason to be hopeful than ever before.

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Topics: Innovation, cancer, drug cost, health insurance, HIV/AIDS, Hepatitis C, price controls

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