Biden orders HHS to report plans to lower drug prices

The order, issued Friday, calls on the Department of Health and Human Services to report plans to lower costs for people on Medicaid and Medicare, as well as increase access to new drugs. Also: Medicare mental health coverage, Makena pregnancy drug, Roche Alzheimer’s drug, and more.

Brutal health care: Biden’s new order wants payment models to tackle drug prices

President Biden is calling for new payment and delivery models that will lower drug prices in a new executive order. The order, issued Friday, calls for the Department of Health and Human Services to produce a report outlining payment models that will test how to improve access to innovative drugs and lower costs for those on Medicare and Medicaid. While the order doesn’t give HHS new powers, it does highlight the administration’s next steps to lower drug prices. (10/14)

Los Angeles Times: Biden campaigns with Katie Porter to work to lower drug costs

President Biden and Congresswoman Katie Porter sought to focus voters’ attention on Democrats’ work to lower the cost of prescription drugs during an event in Orange County on Friday afternoon. With inflation likely to be the biggest liability for Democrats in next month’s midterm elections, Biden and Porter (D-Irvine) were eager to highlight what their party has already done to try to reduce consumer spending. (Stockols, 10/14)

About dental care and Medicare coverage —

KHN: After Congress fails to add dental coverage, Medicare weighs limited benefit expansion

Proposed changes to Medicare rules could soon pave the way for a major expansion of Medicare-covered dental services, while falling short of the comprehensive benefits that many Democratic lawmakers have advocated. That’s because under current law, Medicare can only pay for limited dental care if it’s medically necessary to safely treat another covered medical condition. In July, officials proposed adding eligibility conditions and sought public comment. Any changes could be announced in November and take effect as soon as January. (Jaffe, 10/17)

In other pharmaceutical industry news —

Politico: Battle over pregnancy drugs highlights risks of FDA fast-tracking drugs to market

This week, the FDA will make its case to do something it hasn’t done in more than a decade — order a drug it put on the market to be recalled. A panel of independent expert advisers on obstetrics and reproductive medicine will meet from Monday to decide whether to recommend that Makena, an injection touted as reducing the risk of preterm birth, remain available to at least some patients. (Gardner, 10/16)

Stat: What you need to know about Roche’s experimental Alzheimer’s treatment

The next big Alzheimer’s study is almost here. Roche is close to completing two clinical trials involving its experimental treatment, called gantenerumab. The Swiss pharmaceutical giant will announce the results of the studies in the next six weeks. (Feuerstein and Garde, 10/17)

Stat: Lawmakers demand NIH disclose steps it will take in clinical trial reporting

A group of Republican senators is demanding to know what steps the US National Institutes of Health will take to ensure that the results of clinical trials funded by the agency – both those conducted by its own scientists and outside researchers – are reported in a federal database . (Silverman, 10/14)

In other healthcare industry news —

CBS News: Man plays his sax through 9-hour, ‘very, very complicated’ brain surgery to remove tumor

A musician had a brain tumor removed in Italy this week during a nine-hour operation that saw him not only awake and fully conscious, but also playing his saxophone. The 35-year-old patient underwent the procedure at Rome’s Paideia International Hospital on Monday and was discharged early Thursday morning. (Matranga, 10/14)

Las Vegas Review-Journal: New technology paves way for 1-incision robotic colon surgery

Friedman and HCA’s MountainView Hospital joined a Food and Drug Administration clinical trial to confirm the safety and feasibility of using the da Vinci SP (single-port) robotic system in a variety of colorectal surgeries. The trial is enrolling adult patients who are candidates for minimally invasive surgery for colon cancer, polyps and other conditions. (Hines, 10/15)

This is part of KHN’s Morning Briefing, a roundup of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for email subscription.

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