AHCJ webcast to examine drug prices, other cost challenges

Susan Heavey

About Susan Heavey

Susan Heavey, (@susanheavey) a Washington, D.C.-based journalist, is AHCJ’s topic leader on social determinants of health and curates related material at healthjournalism.org. She welcomes questions and suggestions on resources and tip sheets at determinants@healthjournalism.org.

Photo" Phillip Bradshaw via Flickr

Photo” Phillip Bradshaw via Flickr

Mylan’s price hike for its EpiPen allergy medication fueled an Internet storm this week, with consumers and U.S. legislators expressing outrage over its decision to raise the price about 400% since 2007 to as much as $500 or more. The backlash appeared tied in part to timing as U.S. children head back to school, with parents of those needing EpiPens to treat allergic reactions coming to grips with the hefty price tag.

The incident brought echoes of another drug price hike – the 2015 increase by Turing Pharmaceutical’s malaria and HIV medicine Darapim, another move that brought scrutiny by the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee of the company’s chief executive officer.

“House Oversight Cmte brought in Pharma Bro Martin Shkreli, now we need 2 hear 4rm Mylan abt its unconscionable EpiPen price increases,” Democrats on the committee said in a post on Twitter on Tuesday calling for a hearing on Mylan’s hike. Two U.S. senators also sought answers.

The controversy highlights the challenge of cutting through the cost maze when it comes to health care, especially over drug prices. And for some patients, that lack of transparency or the final bill can be crushing. Why is it so hard to know how much something costs, and why does it vary so widely? What is fueling ever-higher drug and other health costs?

Lynn Quincy

Lynn Quincy

On Tuesday, Aug. 30, AHCJ will hold a webcast examining the cost conundrum with Consumer Union’s Lynn Quincy, who leads the consumer-advocacy group’s Healthcare Value Hub. Earlier this year, Quincy testified in support of a Massachusetts proposal to curb rising drug prices.

An economist by training who focuses on health care policy, Quincy will walk AHCJ members through how to find transparent information on quality and costs for drugs and services as well as how to sort out wide price variations for care that seems similar.

The training session, entitled “Covering consumers: Tackling costs, pricing and access,” will also address the causes behind prices that fluctuate by location and geography, and how underlying consumer behavior can also affect costs when it comes to choosing care and insurance coverage. We’ll also look at the latest changes in the marketplace under the Affordable Care Act.

Join us. There will be a lot to cover. As CNN reported, while EpiPen’s price rise has swelled, it isn’t the only medicine to do so lately.

Further reading:

Leave a Reply