US Pharma & Healthcare News: California Debates UHC; Mark Cuban’s “Lifesaving” Affordable Online Pharmacy; $400M Expansion for DHL


A roundup of the latest news from US life sciences and healthcare, including sweeping healthcare reform in the state of California; how revolutionary billionaire Mark Cuban’s newly launched affordable online pharmacy Cost Plus Drug Co. can be; DHL’s USD 400 million expansion of its pharmaceutical and medical device supply chain network; and three US pharma giants’ USD 590 million settlement for lawsuits connected to opioid addiction among Native American tribes.


California could become first US state to offer universal healthcare to residents (The Guardian)

The bills to create and fund universal healthcare face opposition from powerful lobbies for doctors and insurance companies

California is considering creating the first government-funded, universal healthcare system in the US for state residents. The proposal, which lawmakers will begin debating on Tuesday, would adopt a single-payer healthcare system that would replace the need for private insurance plans.

Lawmakers are debating two bills – one would create the universal healthcare system, another would outline plans to fund it by increasing taxes, especially for wealthy individuals and businesses. The sweeping healthcare reform faces significant hurdles, including opposition from powerful lobbies for doctors and insurance companies. If the bills are approved by the legislature, voters would ultimately have to approve the taxes to fund the new system in an amendment to the California constitution.


Opinion: The U.S. is on the verge of a major health-care achievement, and no one seems to have noticed (The Washington Post)

The United States is on the verge of a major achievement, one that almost no one seems to have noticed.

If — and right now this remains a big “if” — some version of President Biden’s Build Back Better plan gets back on track, we might finally join the ranks of every other rich nation on Earth and treat access to health care as a fundamental right.

All other developed economies already guarantee universal health coverage, at least to their own citizens. Wealthy, middle income, poor: Everyone is promised access to care, with each country using a slightly different regulatory, funding and delivery structure to meet that objective.


Opinion: Can Mark Cuban help save the pharmaceutical industry from itself?

It’s nice to see initiatives such as billionaire investor Mark Cuban’s latest effort, the Cost Plus Drug Co. The online pharmacy, which opened for business recently, will almost certainly be, in some cases, literally a lifesaver. It is offering a select group of generic medications for the manufacturer’s cost plus a 15 percent markup and a $3 service fee.

For the uninsured and underinsured — Cost Plus doesn’t currently take insurance — this has the potential to be lifesaving. Cost Plus is selling imatinib, the generic version of blood cancer miracle drug Gleevec, for $17.10 a month. Its list price is just north of $2,500. Even the insured are finding paying Cost Plus directly can sometimes amount to significant savings.

But no matter how successful Cuban’s business is, it can’t come close to addressing the overall problem that really needs solving: the question of why prices for prescription drugs are so high in the United States.


DHL earmarks $400M to expand its pharma, medical device supply chain network this year (Fierce Pharma)

DHL Supply Chain, a U.S. unit of Deutsche Post DHL Group, said the group’s Life Sciences and Healthcare arm will spend $400 million this year to expand its pharmaceutical and medical device supply chain network.

The investment equates to a 27% expansion or nearly 3 million additional square feet. The growth includes six new U.S. sites expected to be operational by the end of 2022. The price tag covers new buildings, equipment and related technology.

When completed, DHL Supply Chain will have 34 sites across the U.S. including in Atlanta, Cincinnati, Memphis, Reno and Lebanon, Pennsylvania. The new facilities will have temperature-controlled storage to support pharmaceutical requirements.


Pharma exec is first in US to be found guilty of drug conspiracy (Courthouse News Service)

MANHATTAN (CN) — A jury returned a guilty verdict Wednesday in the first criminal trial of a drug distributor on federal charges of drug trafficking and fraud.

Masked per the court’s Covid-19 safety protocols, the 78-year-old Doud took his place at the defense table after quickly lowering his face covering to kiss his wife, who was present during the two-week trial.

Jurors deliberated for 11 hours beginning Tuesday before coming to their decision. In addition to finding him guilty of drug trafficking, the top count, the jury found that more than 400 grams of fentanyl was in play.


US pharma giants to pay $590M to settle opioid epidemic claims (TRT World)

A group of pharmaceutical companies and distributors have agreed to pay $590 million to settle lawsuits connected to opioid addiction among Native American tribes, according to a US court filing.

The agreement is the latest amid a deluge of litigation spawned by the US opioid crisis, which has claimed more than 500,000 lives over the last 20 years and ensnared some of the largest firms in the world of American medicine.

The companies involved in the latest agreement include Johnson & Johnson and McKesson, according to a filing on Tuesday in an Ohio federal court by a committee of plaintiffs in the case.

Johnson & Johnson, McKesson and the other two companies in the accord –– AmerisourceBergen and Cardinal Health –– previously agreed to a $26 billion global settlement on opioid cases.

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