On this week’s episode, Terry and Bob give an update on the Covid-19 vaccine, drug pricing, and Operation Warp Speed with Robert Popovian. The release of the first vaccine is set to begin in November for the most vulnerable patients.  The goal of Operation Warp Speed is to develop and deploy a Covid-19 vaccine in record time to help end the pandemic. 

What is the 340B drug pricing program? Terry and Bob explain the good, the bad, and the ugly of the program. Many 340B hospitals get medications for pennies on the dollar and this helps the most needy patients. However, 340B program is way off track in many hospitals and needs to be fixed. As Terry puts it in an op-ed about 340B, “In theory, hospitals are supposed to pass these savings on to low-income patients. In practice, hospitals routinely charge market rates and pocket the difference.”

Terry also takes on her Twitter critics who continue to talk about drug list prices without providing any context on rebates or fees. 85% of patients won’t see any help at the pharmacy counter until we tackle the issues of insurance benefit design and drug rebates. 

More About Drug Pricing

In Part 2 of her interview with Robert Popovian, they talk about President Trump’s recent executive order on drug pricing. Dr. Popovian identifies real-world evidence that the order to require drug rebates to be distributed back to Medicare Part D patients at the prescription counter will lower prices. When Optum Health made this move, Dr. Popovian explains, its patients saved an average of $130 per prescription and $1,400 a year out of pocket. More patients’ following their prescription creates savings for patients and the entire healthcare system! 

Dr. Popovian notes that to have the most impact for all patients, drug pricing conversations must go beyond Medicare.  Commercial and employer benefit design need an overhaul as well. 

They discuss the problem with President Trump’s most favored nation price control order and its threat to patient access and innovation. Dr. Popovian explains that the order’s spirit is admirable because other developed countries free ride off U.S. research and development spending. But, he argues that the U.S. should address this issue through trade negotiations.

Dr. Popovian addresses the safety problems with drug importation order and how it has been tried in the past without success. 

Meet a COVID-19 Vaccine Patient

Field correspondent Kate Pecora talks with Ian Haydon. Ian participates in Moderna’s Phase One Covid-19 vaccine trial and his first injection was on April 8th. He explains the process of the trail and why ordinary Americans should have confidence in the vaccine. The trial is moving at warp speed, but no steps are being skipped. 

Listen HERE.

To hear Part One of Robert Popovian’s interview, Listen HERE or on your favorite podcast App.