HIV+Hep in the News

FTC urged to probe PBMs after Democratic commissioner confirmed

Generic drug makers and more than 100 patient organizations are among those urging FTC to investigate PBMs. About 80% of prescription drug transactions are handled by three PBMs, and patients organizations say that consolidation gives those three PBMs far too much power over which drugs are available. “Often this interferes with the decisions of medical providers and, due to high patient cost-sharing, makes prescription drugs unaffordable for many patients. This not only impacts the health of the patients we represent but the health of the entire country and healthcare spending in other areas if patients are not able to access and afford the medications that their providers prescribe,” the patient groups wrote in a joint comment letter.

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Due to Covid, 2020 was a ‘lost year’ in the fight against HIV, report suggests

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s annual HIV Surveillance Report, published Tuesday, provides the first major bird’s-eye view of the turn the nation’s four-decade-old epidemic took after the coronavirus upended society. The report, which includes 2020 data, follows worrisome previous findings that found HIV testing plunged as stay-at-home orders swept the nation in March of that year.

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DC makes progress against HIV but inadequate treatment, education remain

“D.C. has really turned the corner on HIV, but that doesn’t mean it’s over. We still have a lot of work to do,” said Carl Schmid, executive director of the HIV+Hepatitis Policy Institute, which is based in the District. HIV cases have dropped dramatically in D.C. since their peak in 2007. But nearly 1 in 5 new infections occurred in people age 13 to 24, a new report from DC Health says. Many of those young people were not on medication that can help the virus from spreading to others.

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Copay assistance programs, and their trackers, stay in the spotlight

The use of tracking systems — such as copay accumulators and copay maximizers — to scrutinize patients’ use of drug manufacturer copay assistance programs is causing controversy inside and outside of the federal government, as well as concerns among physicians and patients. Copay assistance programs are vitally important to patients with chronic illnesses, Carl Schmid, executive director of the HIV+Hepatitis Policy Institute, said in a phone interview. For example, “HIV drugs and hepatitis drugs are costly and usually on specialty [formulary] tiers … and more and more people are in high-deductible plans,” he said. “Anyone who relies on prescription drugs, particularly for chronic conditions, relies on copay assistance. It was $12 billion last year.”

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Presidential council urges HHS to step up PrEP efforts

The Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS recently made recommendations to scale up preexposure prophylaxis (PrEP) efforts. In a letter to HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra, the council urged the Biden administration to support the creation of a national PrEP program so all those who eligible for taking antiviral medications on a preventive basis have access to the medications and any associated services.

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