Administration to Tackle Spread of Antibiotic Resistance

The Obama Administration has released an action plan to fight the spread of antibiotic-resistant bacteria involving collaboration between the Department of Defense, the Department of Agriculture, and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). The plan is based on recommendations by the President’s Council of Advisers on Science and Technology (PCAST), and provides a framework to achieve five goals over the next five years: slowing the spread of resistant bacteria, strengthening surveillance, speeding the development of tests and new drugs, improving how government agencies work together to monitor and fight the spread of antibiotic resistant bacteria, and expanding international efforts to address this global health threat. The initiative will require the Administration to propose new regulations in order to achieve the outlined goals.

Movement on Specialty Tier Formularies

Rep. David B. McKinley (R-W.V.) and Rep. Lois Capps (D-Calif.) have reintroduced the Patients’ Access to Treatments Act (PATA), which would limit co-payment, coinsurance, or other cost-sharing requirements applicable to prescription drugs in a specialty drug tier to the dollar amount of such requirements applicable to prescription drugs in a non-preferred brand drug tier. Patients with complex diseases who require specialty drugs without cheaper generic versions can be forced to pay thousands of dollars a month when their treatments are placed onto higher pricing tiers. H.R. 1600 currently has 50 cosponsors. Meanwhile, Aetna, Inc. has decided to move most HIV drugs onto generic or non-preferred-brand tiers in its formulary. The change will be effective June 1, and will apply to all non-invasive oral HIV drugs. At this point, patients will be required to pay no more than $100 in out-of-pocket costs once their deductible is met.

White House Launches Health Care Payment Learning and Action Network

The Obama Administration marked the fifth anniversary of the ACA by launching a new network of public and private groups aimed at moving the country’s health care system towards incentivizing quality instead of quantity. The Health Care Payment Learning and Action Network will serve as an information-sharing forum for payers, providers, companies, and advocacy groups to exchange lessons learned about the transition to new payment models. Organizations will not receive funding for participation, and the network will be overseen by an outside contractor. The network currently has 2,800 registered members committed to accelerating the movement from fee-for-service payments to a value based system.

Ebola Vaccines See Success in African Trial

Two experimental Ebola vaccines appear to be safe based on evaluations of the first stage of the Partnership for Research on Ebola Vaccines in Liberia clinical trial, according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH). The vaccines are being tested for safety and efficacy in more than 600 people. The clinical trial is sponsored by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID). Recent results may allow the study to advance to the next phase of efficacy testing using additional volunteers. Since the West Africa Ebola epidemic began one year ago, it has killed more than 10,200 people.

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