Trinity Health to join in nonprofit generic drug company

Trinity Health will be joining a partnership led by Intermountain Health with Ascension and SSM Health to form a new, not-for-profit generic drug company.

Trinity Health is the parent of several Connecticut hospitals, including St. Francis, Mount Sinai, and Johnson Memorial Hospital in Stafford. Ascension Health also has a Connecticut location in Bridgeport.

The four organizations account for more than 450 hospitals across the nation.  They will be in consultation with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

The company intends to be an FDA-approved manufacturer and will either directly manufacture generic drugs or sub-contract manufacturing to reputable organizations, it said in a news release.

The company hopes to provide an affordable option to consumers who have been hurt by unfair pricing by generic drug manufacturers.  It also seeks to stabilize the supply of generic medications administered in hospitals, resulting in lower costs and more predictable supply.

“For people in the United States, there is a dangerous gap today between the demand and supply of affordable prescription drugs,” Dr. Richard J. Gilfillan, CEO of Trinity Health, said.

This gap has serious effects for families all around the country. According to a Consumer Reports Survey, an estimated 27 million Americans experienced a price hike for one or more of their medications.  These price hikes have led to risky behaviors, such as skipping doses, according to the report.

Research into actual costs of manufacturing and distributing generic drugs suggests that prices could be slashed to a fraction of what they are now, potentially saving consumers and health-care systems hundreds of millions of dollars, the organizations said in the news release.

Price hikes and low supply can be attributed to a decrease in number of suppliers and a concentration of market pricing power, but this new initiative hopes to bring together health-care systems all over the U.S. to address the ongoing issue.

“As an organization which must have an affordable and stable supply of generic pharmaceuticals to fulfill its health-care mission, the Department of Veterans Affairs looks forward to the value this new company will bring to health care in the United States,” said Dr. Carolyn M. Clancy, executive in charge of the Veterans Health Administration.

The formation of the not-for-profit generic drug company will be guided by an Advisory Committee that includes experts from the pharmaceutical industry, business, and government.

“If the only way to provide our communities with affordable drugs is to produce them ourselves, then that is what we will do,” said Gilfillan. The organizations hope that many more health-care systems will join them in the fight for affordable drugs.

Originally published by the Journal Inquirer