Durbin Questions Dermatology Drug Price Increases

Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) has written to the CEO of Novum Pharma to inquire about recent price hikes for three of the company’s skin treatments. In March 2015, Novum acquired three topical medications used to treat various skin conditions such as dermatitis, eczema, acne, and skin inflammations. Since then, the price of Alcortin was increased from $226 per tube to $9,561 per tube. The price of Aloquin increased from $241.50 to $9,561 per tube. The price of Novacort increased from $4,186 to $7,142 per tube. Durbin asks Novum to justify their decision to increase the price of these products, and asks for details about both their profits and manufacturing costs. “If the pharmaceutical industry is unwilling or unable to reasonably price their products in a way that protects access for patients in need and does not place an unnecessary financial burden on our health care system, then Congress must step in and act,” he writes. The Senator
requests that the company respond to his questions by October 11.

Health Care in State Elections

A number of referendums will be coming up for a vote in states across the country this November that could significantly impact the health care system. In Arizona, Arkansas, California, Florida, Maine, Massachusetts, Montana, Nevada, and North Dakota, voters will weigh in on ballot issues related to the availability of medical marijuana and the legalization of marijuana. In California, voters will consider a constitutional amendment that would prohibit lawmakers from using funds collected from a hospital provider fee for general expenses. California will also vote on whether to require state agencies to pay no more than what the Department of Veteran Affairs pays for pharmaceuticals. Colorado voters will consider a constitutional amendment to fund a universal health care system for the state, paid for through a 10 percent income tax increase. In Washington state, voters will have the opportunity to decide whether to tax adult standalone dental plans to fund the state’s insurance exchange. Nevada voters will decide whether to exempt from sales and use tax durable medical equipment, oxygen delivery equipment, and mobility enhancing equipment. Several gubernatorial races also have the potential to impact health care, particularly as it relates to Medicaid expansion. In Missouri, two-term incumbent Jay Nixon (D) is term limited in 2016. Nixon will either be replaced by Chris Koster (D), who favors Medicaid expansion, or
Eric Greitens (R), who opposes it, with Koster currently ahead in the polls. In North Carolina, Pat McCrory (R) is running for re-election against Democratic candidate Roy Cooper. While McCrory is focused on privatizing the state’s Medicaid system, Cooper is strongly supportive of expanding the program. This race is expected to be one of the most competitive of the 2016 election season.

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