Heart hospitals waiting for Valeant price breaks

Laval, Quebec, Canada-based Valeant Pharmaceuticals International pledged to Congress in February that it would offer hospitals price breaks of as much as 30 percent on two of its expensive heart drugs, but heart hospitals have yet to see that pledge fulfilled, The New York Times reports.

Administrators at hospitals such as the Cleveland Clinic, Baltimore-based Johns Hopkins, Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., and NewYork-Presbyterian, said nothing has changed since the Senate hearing two weeks ago, when Valeant's CEO vowed to look into senators' assertions that they had not found a single hospital that had received any discounts on the drugs, Nitropress and Isuprel, according to the report.

Valeant has reached out to St. Louis-based Ascension, and is negotiating prices with the system, The New York Times reports. The Cleveland Clinic, Mayo Clinic and NewYork-Presbyterian aren't eligible for the discounts because they do not use MedAssets or Premier, the two companies through which Valeant is offering the price reductions. However, Ascension negotiates prices through its own group purchasing organization.

Still, Premier described the discounts to U.S. hospitals as "minimal to nonexistent," saying only two of its 2,500 member hospitals had received the 30 percent discounts the company had offered, according to the report. Most of the rest were eligible for discounts of just one penny off the wholesale price, "which is essentially no discount," the company added.

Valeant has been under fire for aggressive price increases adopted by the pharmaceutical company over the past few years. The company named Joseph Papa CEO, after announcing J. Michael Pearson, who had served as CEO since 2008 and was a key force in Valeant's highly criticized pricing scheme, would step down from his post.

Mr. Papa told The New York Times the pricing committee had met and discussed changes to the discount program for the two drugs. "What we're now doing is to resolve some of those difficulties that some of the players have experienced," he said, according to the report. "I now believe we've got a solution to this question, and I look forward to being able to announce this," he added.

Valeant said last week that it had offered the discounts, of up to 30 percent, through MedAssets and Premier, according to the report. Valeant also noted the recent Senate hearing revealed "gaps" in that process, which it is working to fix.

 

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