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March 7, 2018

February/March OCC Advocacy News

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February 27 OCAN Advocacy Day

A number of OCC leaders joined more than 80 individuals from 24 different states in attending the second annual OCAN Advocacy Day on Tuesday, February 27, 2018. Once again, advocates urged legislators to support and cosponsor the Treat and Reduce Obesity Act — legislation which will provide Medicare beneficiaries and their health care providers with meaningful tools to treat obesity by improving access to weight management counseling and allowing for coverage of FDA-approved therapeutics for chronic weight management.

This year, advocates visited 102 congressional offices of legislators who had never cosponsored the Treat and Reduce Obesity Act in the past. By the time the day had ended, a number of House members had indicated that they would be signing onto the legislation!

The day ended with a reception hosted by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Political Action Committee (AND PAC) and the ASMBS Political Action Committee (ObesityPAC) to honor Representative Erik Paulsen (R-MN) – one of the House sponsors of TROA and the National Obesity Care Week congressional resolution.

USP Finalizes new USP-Drug Classification 2018

On February 28, 2018, the United States Pharmacopeia finalized its new Drug Classification (USP-DC) — an independent drug classification system, which is designed to address stakeholder needs emerging from the extended use of the USP Medicare Model Guidelines (USP MMG) beyond the Medicare Part D benefit. The OCC was extremely pleased that the final version of the USP-DC includes a new class for anti-obesity agents as well as recognition of new combination agents (Natrexone/Bupropion: Contrave and Phentermine/ Topiramate: Qsymia) which were incorporated in the last draft of the USP-DC.

In discussions with the USP during the development of the drug classification, USP indicated that the OCC’s 2013 comment letter regarding Medicare’s Model Guidelines was the catalyst behind creation of the new anti-obesity agent class. In those comments, OCC stated:

“Given the tremendous progress that has been made by the FDA in approving new obesity medications, coupled with the growing support in Congress for improving access to these new drugs, we urge the USP to (immediately) modify the Model Guidelines to include new categories and classes for obesity medications so that they do not deny patients the expanding range of these new therapies that are available in commercial plans.”

To learn more about the new USP-DC or download the classification files, click here.

USPSTF Issues Draft Recommendations on Behavioral Weight Loss Interventions

On February 20, 2018, the United States Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) issued a draft recommendation statement on “Behavioral Weight Loss Interventions to Prevent Obesity-Related Morbidity and Mortality in Adults.” The draft recommendation statement concludes that clinicians should offer or refer adults aged 18 and older with obesity to intensive, multicomponent behavioral interventions.

In making this recommendation, the Task Force reviewed the evidence to determine if intensive behavioral interventions for weight management such as group sessions, dietary changes, and physical activity are safe and effective methods for weight loss and help prevent illnesses and deaths related to obesity in adults.

At the time of this report, the OCC was developing its comments, which will be filed by the March 19, 2018 deadline. For more information about the Task Force’s draft recommendation statement, please click here.

Bipartisan Budget Deal includes GAO Study on Obesity Drugs

On February 8, 2018, Congress voted to approve a 2-year bipartisan budget deal to provide parameters for long-term funding for the federal government. Among other things, the legislation includes a provision to conduct a Government Accountability Office study “on the use of prescription drugs to manage the weight of obese patients and the impact of coverage of such drugs on patient health and on health care spending.

February/March 2018 Newsletter of the Obesity Care Continuum (OCC)