Healthcare Roundup—Senate committee invites PBMs to testify; Kansas eyes new transplant law

Leaders from five pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs) to testify before a Senate committee on drug pricing on April 3. (Pixabay)

Senate Finance Committee invites PBMs to drug hearing

The U.S. Senate Finance Committee, led by Chairman Chuck Grassley and Ranking Member Ron Wyden, invited executives from five pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs) to testify before a committee on drug pricing.

The hearing, set for April 3, will be the third in a series of hearings looking at the costs of prescription drugs. Cigna, now the parent company of Express Scripts, CVS, Humana, OptumRx and Prime Therapeutics have been invited to the hearing. As pharmaceutical companies testified on the issue, the committee feels it is only fair to let PBMs talk about their role in lowering prescription drug prices. Grassley and Wyden ask that these companies come prepared to discuss real solutions.

“We welcome the opportunity to share with the committee the role of PBMs in advocating on behalf of consumers and plan sponsors to make prescription drugs accessible and affordable,” a spokesperson from the Pharmaceutical Care Management Association (PCMA) told FierceHealthcare.

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To further reduce prescription drug costs, PCMA sent Congress this year a number of legislative and regulatory policies to increase competition, reduce and build on market-based tools in public programs and private health insurance. (Announcement)

Kansas eyes blocking interstate transplants

Lawmakers in Kansas may consider blocking transplants from that state's residents from being shipped to patients outside of the state. 

The measure, which has the support of surgeons at the University of Kansas Hospital, is aimed at addressing concerns caused by national policies set to go into effect that would redistribute organs from areas where donations are more plentiful, such as the Midwest, to areas of shortage, the Kansas City Star reported. 

If passed, the law would go into effect in 2020. However, there is a chance it would face court challenges. (The Kansas City Star)

Cleveland Clinic launches AI center

Cleveland Clinic is creating a new center for artificial intelligence that is expected to accelerate research into machine learning in a clinical setting, officials announced this week.

The center will bring together experts from a variety of departments including IT, genetics, laboratory, oncology, pathology and radiology. Aziz Nazha, M.D., has been named director of CCAI and associate medical director for AI at Cleveland Clinic. (Healthcare IT News)

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