Pharma News for July 13, 2020

The state of Ohio’s Attorney General is suing Express Scripts, a PBM (Pharmacy Benefit Management company). The lawsuit alleges multiple contract breaches by Express Scripts, including the failure to honor pricing discounts, classifying generic drugs as brand name to charge higher rates and overcharging for generic drugs. Express Scripts, now owned by Cigna, declined to comment. (Biopharmadive)

U.S. hospitals have been told by the Trump administration to send all COVID-19 information to a central database in Washington, D.C., instead of to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The order means that the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) will now collect daily reports about COVID-19 patients in each hospital and the number of available beds and ventilators, The New York Times reported. White House officials say the change will streamline data gathering and improve distribution of supplies, but health experts are concerned that the data will be politicized or kept from the public. (Drugs)

While some hospitals in hotspots in Texas, Florida, California and Arizona have had to once again put off non-emergency procedures, providers in other areas of the country are trying to get back to regular patient volumes as the number of positive cases eases. Surveys show, however, that people are wary of returning to the doctor’s office, either because they worry about exposure to the new coronavirus or have lost coverage to help pay for care. The new ad campaign seeks to ease these concerns. No dollar figure was attached to the plan, which advertising agency MullenLowe U.S. took on pro bono. It follows an ad the American Hospital Association launched in May to ensure the public facilities are still available for non-COVID-19 care. (Biopharmadive)

Hackers linked to Russian intelligence services are trying to steal information about coronavirus vaccine research in the U.S., Canada and the U.K., security officials said Thursday, July 16. Officials said a group known as APT29 — also known as “Cozy Bear” — was likely to blame for the attack. They said the group, which is believed to be associated with Russian intelligence, used spear phishing and custom malware to target vaccine researchers. Russia has denied this stating there is no evidence to support these claims. (CNBC)