Perspectives On Drug Costs: To Lower Prices, Consumers Need To Walk Away
A selection of opinions on drug costs from around the country.
Maybe We Are To Blame In Part For Rising Cancer Drug Prices
The prices of oral cancer drugs are rising. This will come as no surprise to anyone who has cancer or who knows someone who has it, but this excellent study documents that fact beyond a shadow of a doubt. Even after introducing a new cancer product at some price, the seller, protected by patents, increased the price by 5% a year on average. This is higher than price growth from economy wide inflation in the same period, while other medical prices also grew excessively, but not by as much, and total drug spending hardly grew at all. But cancer (and other “specialty” drugs) were the exception. Why did these prices increase at this pace? My visceral reaction, which I suspect is the same as yours, is to rail against “corporate greed,” something we have seen on display for even old drugs to a spectacular extent lately. (Mark V. Pauly, 5/9)
Big Drug Maker Presses For Money-Back Guarantee That Its Science Will Work
The next time you take a Merck medicine and it doesn’t work, don’t expect a refund. The drug maker doesn’t offer a money-back guarantee. But there are times, a high-ranking Merck official believes, when the company deserves to get its own money back. That’s when it licenses potential treatments from universities based on promising results from early clinical trials, and then can’t reproduce those results in subsequent experiments. (Ed Silverman, 5/10)
Meet The Middlemen Cutting Drug Prices
For all the uproar over U.S. drug pricing, you wouldn’t expect to hear that drug spending slowed for many last year. A big reason? An increasingly powerful group of medication middlemen called pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs), which negotiate drug prices on behalf of insurers, employers and the government.But their services carry high costs of a different sort, including fewer drug options for patients. The biggest of these firms, Express Scripts and CVS Health, say they held drug spending growth for their clients last year to 5.2 and 5 percent, respectively, from 13.1 and 11.8 percent in 2014. (Max Nisen, 5/5)
The New York Times:
Change Is In The Air For Pharmaceutical Mergers
Health care mergers and acquisitions have accelerated out of control. A record volume of deals were announced last year even after stripping out the $160 billion union of Pfizer and Allergan. Tax benefits overshadowed strategic sense. Valuations and premiums soared. Regulators then got worried. If the pace is indeed slowing, as Tuesday’s news implies, it could be an encouraging sign of a renewed commitment to developing drugs instead of just overpaying for them. (Robert Cyran, 5/10)
Why Is A Company That Makes A Drug For Blind People Spending Millions On TV Ads?
In a spot that has aired on TV more than 12,000 times, a blind woman embraces her daughter at the threshold of her elegant home. But the ad’s primary target audience can’t see it. They’re completely blind. Vanda Pharmaceuticals has bought more than $29 million worth of air time in the past two years for a TV ad blitz aimed at raising awareness of a rare sleep disorder for which Vanda makes the only approved drug. (Rebecca Robbins, 5/4)
Teva Fights Back At The Haters
It's not a good time to be generic. Firms such as Endo International have reported a worsening generic-drug pricing environment in the U.S., blaming it for softness in their business. Teva, the world's biggest generic-drug maker, said on its first-quarter earnings call on Monday that the wave of price erosion its competitors cite is not all that bad. The company -- which is trying to close a $40.5 billion deal for Allergan's generics business in June -- said its generic prices fell by 4 percent in the U.S. last year, and it expects another 4 percent decline this year.In contrast, AmerisourceBergen said on a call last week it expects its generic drug-price deflation to reach the "high single digits" this year alone. (Max Nisen, 5/9)