Perspectives On Drug Costs: Are Prices Actually Too Low?
Editorial and opinion writers offer their take on drug-cost issues.
The New York Times:
Drug Prices Too High? Sometimes, They’re Not Costly Enough
You hear a lot about high drug prices. You hear politicians calling for lower drug prices. But you may not be hearing about how low prices contribute to drug shortages. The drugs most prone to shortage are generic injectable ones, administered to patients in the hospital or a doctor’s office. They include anticancer agents, heart attack medications and anesthetics, many used in life-threatening, emergency situations. When such drugs are in short supply, they cause dangerous delays in care as hospitals seek alternatives. (Austin Frakt, 5/30)
The Washington Post:
Want To Win $2 Billion? Create The Next Antibiotic.
The E. coli found infecting a Pennsylvania woman that is resistant to colistin — the antibiotic of last resort — signals that a superbug is inevitable. Circulating among the bacteria in humans are all the antibiotic-resistance genes necessary to create a superbug; they just need to come together in one bacterium. This nightmare scenario highlights two urgent needs: to slow the development of resistant bugs and to spur development of new antibiotics. Why are we confronting a superbug? The prices of antibiotics are too low. Low prices reduce the barrier to prescribing antibiotics, while high patient demand fosters overprescribing. (Ezekiel Emanuel, 5/30)
Los Angeles Times:
Why Are Drug Prices Soaring? Policymakers Aren't Sure. It's Time They Find Out
The growth in U.S. healthcare spending has slowed considerably in recent years, with one notable exception: prescription drugs. The amount spent on prescriptions has climbed sharply over the last 2 ½ years, driven in part by consecutive years of double-digit price increases. It’s not just a handful of blockbuster drugs that are draining wallets; it’s higher costs for all categories of drugs .... Before policymakers decide what to do, they need more information about how much is actually being spent on prescription drugs and why costs are rising. State Sen. Ed Hernandez (D-West Covina) has proposed a modest step in that direction; his bill (SB 1010) would require health insurers, which already have to reveal to state regulators detailed projections of hospital and physician costs, to include in those annual reports more information about what they’re spending on prescription drugs. (6/1)
Money-Back Guarantee: The New Trend In Drug And Device Marketing
Imagine buying a new car only to learn that it doesn’t work as advertised and there’s nothing you can do about it. That’s essentially what happens when you take a pricey medication or need an expensive medical device like a heart valve or new knee — there’s no guarantee it will work and you won’t get your money back if it doesn’t. In most realms of commerce, if a product fails to deliver what’s been promised, consumers are financially covered through refunds and warranties. This has never been the case with pharmaceuticals and medical devices. Increasingly, however, that’s going to change. (Rita E. Numerof, 5/31)
To Get Over Sticker Shock, New Payment Models Are Needed For Gene Therapies
The first gene therapies could hit the US market next year, but with their arrival comes a painstaking conundrum: how to pay for single-dose medicines that promise a quick cure, but have sky-high price tags. (Ed Silverman, 5/31)