A start-up non-profit company is hoping to stabilize the cost and supply of important drugs to hospitals across the United States.
The delivery and cost of medical care is a controversial topic on the national agenda. Part of the issue is the skyrocketing price of drugs commonly used in healthcare. Turning to the courts, 45 states and the Department of Justice brought a lawsuit this year against makers of generic drugs. The Complaint alleges the companies worked together to control the cost of specific drugs, costing US consumers and businesses in excess of $1 billion.
The use of replacement drugs or improperly manufactured drugs to ease shortages can lead to contaminated pharmaceuticals, medication errors, or injury when consumers are priced out of commonly-used remedies.
One recent high-profile controversy was the price hike of Epi-Pens. An Epi-Pen delivers an injection of epinephrine which can be life-saving for those who suffer serious allergic reactions. While the manufacturers of the Epi-Pen, Mylan NV, faced legislative questioning over unreasonable price hikes, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently announced it had approved a generic version of the Epi-Pen. The generic is manufactured by Teva Pharmaceuticals. Both companies are named in the judicial investigation of corrupt practices around the pricing of generic drugs.
A Different Solution
From within the healthcare industry, a new non-profit company, Civica Rx aims to create a generic drug company to supply some of the generic drugs currently held hostage by commercial generic drug manufacturers.
The difference between this company and other generic drug manufacturers is that the consortium is trying to drive down the cost of medicines and relieve drug shortages that are adversely impacting patients and communities.
While drug wars may not seem to impact individuals, we recently discussed the shortage of one of the most commonly used drugs in the healthcare industry, saline. In what sounds more like a third-world country, some hospitals in the US have rationed the use of saline bags and even refilled previously used bags to provide needed medical care.
At the outset, Civica Rx will be managed by several large healthcare organizations including Trinity Health, Mayo Clinic, Intermountain Healthcare, Providence St. Joseph Health, HCA Healthcare, Catholic Heath Initiatives, and SSM Health.
These organizations alone account for 500 hospitals. Representatives from approximately one-third of the hospitals in the country have contacted Civica Rx about involvement. The company is headquartered in Utah and its chief exec, Martin VanTrieste, is a former Chief Quality Officer at Amgen, who will be working for no salary.
Notes Mr. VanTrieste, “We are creating a public asset with a mission to ensure that essential generic medications are accessible and affordable. The fact that a third of the country’s hospitals have either expressed interest or committed to participate with Civica Rx shows a great need for this initiative. This will improve the situation for patients by bringing much needed competition to the generic drug market.”
Of approximately 200 key generic drugs, Civica Rx plans to focus on the manufacture of 14 as-yet-unidentified generic drugs as its first project, with the first deliveries in Spring, 2019.
The delivery of high-quality, affordable healthcare is a profound problem in the US. This company may provide much-needed competition, quality assurance, and best practices to help US consumers receive safer, more cost-effective healthcare.
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