What’s Wrong With This Picture? Opioid Abuse Crisis; 22 Million Americans in the Dark About Quality; Register for Dec. 18 Member Meeting…

December 1, 2015

What’s Wrong With This Picture?

Fast Facts

  • A 30-day supply of  Movantik is well  over $800 (rxpricequotes.com)
  • Annual Movantik sales are expected  to exceed $2 billion  by 2017 (fiercepharma.com)
  • Direct-to-consumer advertising dollars spent by drug makers have increased 30% over the past two years to $4.5 billion (Kantar Media)

Health care advertising and news frequently calls to mind the bumper sticker, “If you’re not outraged, you’re not paying attention.” As our Action Group team met last week, a number of examples had us shaking our heads in disbelief. Thus, the birth of this periodic feature, “What’s Wrong With This Picture?”

This week’s topic: Is Movantik drug maker blind to our nation’s opioid abuse crisis? 


At a time when runaway use and abuse of prescription opioid painkillers has emerged as a public health crisis, why does a friendly cartoon advertisement for the opioid-induced constipation drug, Movantik, depict a woman having her portrait drawn and walking hand-in-hand with her worried best pal – an opioid pill? (And what’s in that suitcase labeled “constipation?”) Social media is on fire with comments by outraged consumers noting that these ads frequently appear during NFL games, while countless football players (and other athletes) struggle with opioid abuse. Is it any wonder the American Medical Association is calling for a ban on direct-to-consumer prescription drug advertising?

“Ultimately, such an advertisement is a callous misjudgment by a company placing profits over people,” says John Lavitt, a reporter for the addiction and recovery blog, The Fix. “They are providing motivation to drug users to continue their abuse while making light of the tragic impact of a national epidemic.”

As an aside, opioids now cause more deaths each year than homicides in Minnesota, according to this new Star Tribune report, featured in Sunday’s “Minnesota Confronts Painkiller Epidemic.”

Do you have other ideas for “What’s Wrong With This Picture?” Please send them to our communications director, Jean Hanvik.

Carolyn Pare
President and CEO

Only California, Minnesota and Washington received an “A” rating on the Report Card on Physician Quality Transparency.

The Weekly Buzz: Americans in the Dark About Physician Quality

“For those who have toiled in the darkness that envelops health care pricing information, there is much to be thankful for this year. The same cannot be said about information on physician quality.” The third annual Report Card on Physician Quality Transparency from the Health Care Incentives Improvement Institute shows that not much has changed. A few States have improved, but those who had an F last year (which is most of them), got an F this year, which means over 200 million Americans do not have ready access to information on the quality of care delivered by their physicians.

Free on-demand webinar from Employee Benefit News: Planning, Preparing, and Calculating Your Potential Cadillac Tax Fines. Register here.

December 18 Member Meeting Agenda Set

Special guest, attorney Phil Larson, will be presenting, “The Affordable Care Act Cadillac Tax: Concerns for Employers, Employees and other Considerations.” We will also be discussing hot topics that are keeping our members up at night. Included will be how some of you are preparing for the Cadillac Tax, private exchanges, the unsustainable cost of specialty drugs – and any other concerns or challenges you are facing. If you have special areas or concerns you would like addressed, please include those in your RSVP. Click here to learn more or to RSVP.

Related and Interesting…

U.S. Doctor Group Calls for Ban on Drug Advertising to Consumers. Read more here.

In Case You Missed It: Is Your Pharmacy Benefit Manager Playing a Shell Game?

Special Senior Advisor to The Action Group’s Specialty Pharmacy Care Delivery Learning Network, Dr. Stephen Schondelmeyer, was featured in this new KARE11 story where he describes the “dirty little secret” in the prescription drug business: PBMs that are essentially “playing a shell game” by quietly raising unreported drug costs instead of lowering them.

Join Us for the 9th Annual Employer Leadership Summit  

Save the date for The Action Group’s 9th Annual Employer Leadership Summit on April 22, 2016. This event is open to all and was sold out in 2015. We will feature national and international health care and benefits thought leaders, the Innovator’s Showcase, interactive polling, networking opportunities, sponsored booths, and lively discussions. If you or a partner organization would like to sponsor an exhibit, please contact us!

Thought for the Week

“Today’s vote in support of an [direct-to-consumer drug] advertising ban reflects concerns among physicians about the negative impact of commercially driven promotions, and the role that marketing costs play in fueling escalating drug prices. Direct-to-consumer advertising inflates demand for new and more expensive drugs, even when those drugs may not be appropriate.”

Patrice Harris, M.D., M.A.
American Medical Association Board Chair-elect
November 16, 2015