NY State Medical Society Maintains Opposition to Aid in Dying/Assisted Suicide Bill

Here is the press release from the Medical Society of the State of New York.  Advocates for legislation to support aid in dying/assisted suicide had a lobby day today (May 14) to push for the bill sponsored by Assemblywoman Amy Paulin and Senator Diane Savino.  Governor Cuomo weighed in on the issue in recent weeks saying the bill needs to be addressed.  New Jersey passed similar legislation but Maryland and Connecticut defeated attempts to pass the bill.  The legislation here in New York still does not seem to have enough votes to pass.  It has not yet been scheduled for a vote in the health committees of the Assembly or Senate.

For Immediate Release
May 14, 2019

MSSNY Statement re: Medical Aid in Dying

Statement attributable to:
Arthur Fougner, MD
President, Medical Society of the State of New York

“As physicians, we value the importance of each person’s life. There are great disparities in access and quality of care at the end of life and we are particularly concerned about the impact of Medical Aid in Dying on vulnerable populations.

“Medical Aid in Dying is a complex issue with great variations in the wishes of patients as to the application of care as they approach the end of their natural lifespan or are faced with a terminal illness. The Medical Society of the State of New York is opposed to physician assisted suicide, but we continue to examine the issue through MSSNY’s  Task Force on End of Life Care, which is looking at all aspects of the issue.  MSSNY is committed to work with physicians and groups on both sides of this difficult question to improve access and quality of palliative care for all of our patients, particularly in their last days.“

“60 Minutes” Highlights Major Lawsuit Against Generic Drug Makers

CBS News 60 Minutes newsmagazine broadcast a major story on Sunday night about a lawsuit brought by the State of Connecticut and forty other states against major generic drug makers, charging them with a conspiracy to price gouge and limit competition.  The program said this may be the “biggest price fixing scheme in US history.”  The Attorney General of Connecticut William Tong appeared on the program and noted the outrageous increases in drug prices.  The broadcast reported:

Between 2013 and  2014, a bottle of doxycycline shot up 8,281 percent from $20 to more than $1800. A bottle of asthma medication, albuterol sulfate, jumped more than 4000 percent, from $11 to $434. Pravastatin, a cholesterol drug, up more than 500 percent, from $27 a bottle to $196.

The drug companies said that prices rose due to shortages and market forces.  Attorney General Tong, said that the generic drug makers are “too big to care” about the impact of the drug increases.  He showed how investigators had phone records showing how prices were driven up by several major generic drug companies within hours after their executives had phone conversations and told each other they were raising prices.

Tong said:  “We have evidence, hard evidence, in the form of text messages, emails, documents, witnesses that demonstrate clearly that it wasn’t about product shortages. It was about profit. It was about cold, hard greed.”

The report also said, “It all snapped into sharp focus when he matched phone logs to thousands of text messages from Heritage Pharmaceuticals. This exchange, with competitor Citron Pharma, showed collusion to increase the price of a diabetes medication. The text messages implicate two other companies: Aurobindo and Teva, the world’s largest generic drug maker. The national accounts manager at Heritage wrote:

A.S.: “We are raising the price right now — just letting you know, Teva says they will follow”
A.S.: “Aurobindo agrees too”

A corporate account representative from Citron answered:

KA: “…we are def [initely] in to raise pricing … are doing this immediately”

The Heritage executive responded:

AS: “We are raising our customers 200% over current market price.”

A director of a health care clinic in a rural southern Illinois area said that Medicaid and Medicare cap what they pay for generic prices so patients have to pay the difference and are struggling to do so.

Here’s a link to the story:

https://www.cbsnews.com/news/sweeping-lawsuit-accuses-top-generic-drug-companies-executives-of-fixing-prices-60-minutes-2019-05-12/

Cabrini Foundation Opens as Largest in NY State; Will Award $150 Million in 2019 for Health Related Projects

The Mother Cabrini Health Foundation has opened its online portal for letters of inquiry from nonprofit organizations with projects to serve the health needs of poor New Yorkers.  The foundation was created with the assets of the Roman Catholic, non-profit health insurer Fidelis which was sold to a private company.  New York State law requires privatized nonprofits to provide the monetary value of their assets for public purposes.    Those assets are valued at over $3 billion which makes it the largest foundation in the state.

The new foundation has listed its priorities on its website at http://www.cabrinihealth.org.  Populations included are:

  • low income individuals and families;
  • older adults;
  • immigrants and migrant workers;
  • formerly incarcerated individuals;
  • persons with special needs;
  • veterans;
  • young children, pregnant women and new moms; and
  • youth and young adults

The foundation is giving priority this year to organizations which have a budget of at least $750,000 though it will consider those with less than that.   Grant requests must be at $75,000.  Health services to older New Yorkers are one of the priorities.  Letters of inquiry have to be submitted online by Thursday, May 9th for competition in a statewide category.   In June, the foundation will then invite accepted inquiries to submit a formal application with decisions and awards of money by the end of the year.  Other regional projects will be solicited on an invitation-only basis.

Organizations which apply must submit proposals “consistent with the ethical principles, tenets, and teachings of the Roman Catholic Faith.”  This guideline will exclude some organizations which are in conflict with church positions on health care issues.