Perspectives: Relying On Cheaper, Older Versions Of Insulin To Solve Crisis Puts Patients At Risk
Read recent commentaries about drug-cost issues.
The Washington Post:
Drug Prices Are Killing Diabetics. ‘Walmart Insulin’ Isn’t The Solution.
Insulin prices are killing people. A single vial, which lasts some users between one and two weeks, is priced over $300 — roughly triple what it cost in 2002. One in 4 diabetes patients have admitted to rationing the drug because of costs, and several have died after doing so. Much to the relief of insulin affordability advocates, who have been raising awareness about costs and pushing for policy changes, the public is increasingly aware of this crisis. But instead of working with advocates to rectify the situation, too many people are simply promoting older, cheaper insulin. This was evident in early February when a Facebook post touting “Walmart insulin” went viral. Such gestures come from a good place, but they put insulin-dependent people at greater risk and threaten to exacerbate the larger problem. (Audrey Farley, 2/19)
On Insulin, Don’t Blame Drug Companies For High Prices
Today, Type 1 diabetes patients pay twice as much for insulin as they did in 2012. This is outrageous — but drug companies aren’t to blame. The problem is a dysfunctional supply chain that benefits everyone except patients. In today’s system, insurers hire third-party firms, known as pharmacy benefit managers, to manage drug plans. These PBMs negotiate with drugmakers and have the power to decide which drugs are covered by each plan. Each year, manufacturers dole out $150 billion in rebates and discounts as a result of these negotiations. But patients rarely see these savings at the pharmacy counter. (Sally C. Pipes, 2/18)
The Wall Street Journal:
How To Reduce Prescription-Drug Prices: First, Do No Harm
Everyone wants to reduce prescription drug prices, but how? First, do no harm. It’s true that Americans pay more for medication than just about anyone else: A 2018 report from the White House’s Council of Economic Advisers found that, as of 2009, the price per dose of patented drugs was five times as high in the U.S. as in foreign markets.Yet Americans get something in return—early access to lifesaving medications. (Scott W. Atlas, 2/13)
Pharmaceutical Ads Should Be Required To Disclose Efficacy, Risks
President Donald Trump has proposed that drug ads on television disclose prices, and last week Johnson and Johnson declared that it would voluntarily do this for some ads. But that’s like treating a malignant growth with a Band-Aid. What consumers really need is usable information on whether drugs work. Instead television drug ads appeal to the emotions, playing on hope of relief from pain or other symptoms, fear of illness, or desire for youthful energy. Though the Food and Drug Administration is supposed to ensure that drugs show some efficacy, many approved drugs that seem to work miracles on TV performed only marginally better than placebos in clinical trials. Some are indirectly marketed for unapproved uses through awareness campaigns. Some come with a risk of serious side effects that television commercials bury amid long lists of minor ones. Also, what is the likelihood of each of these side effects? (Faye Flam, 2/13)
We Need A Public Domain Day For Drug Patent Expirations
This Jan. 1, readers, archivists, and creatives in the United States celebrated a special holiday: the largest Public Domain Day in 21 years. The legal ownership of hundreds of works of classic literature — this year including well-loved Robert Frost poems like “Nothing Gold Can Stay” and “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening” — was transferred into the hands of the people. We suggest a plot twist: Let’s celebrate the same way when drug patents expire. (Peter Kochinsky and Jessica Sagers, 2/14)
Drug Giants Can Save America Billions But Will They
Pharma and its drug-pricing practices have come under fire from critics on the right and left, and from lawmakers on Capitol Hill to Donald Trump’s White House. But amid the political bashing, here’s something that may come as a surprise: The industry managed to save taxpayers some money. That conclusion comes out of a recent study in Health Affairs from Harvard economist and Obamacare architect David Cutler, which sought to identify the reasons behind a mysterious slowdown in health-care spending among older Americans in recent years. He calculates that Medicare spending per beneficiary grew by 3.8 percent annually between 1992 and 2004 on an inflated-adjusted basis; since 2005, though, the growth rate has slowed to just 1.1 percent. In 2012 alone, spending was nearly $3,000 lower than expected. (Max Nisen, 2/15)