Many Americans think they pay too much for their prescription drugs, especially those who need life-saving medications for cancer and hepatitis C. Why are drug costs so high in the United States? How can reporters better explain the cost squeeze to their audiences?
These were among the questions that Sarah Emond, M.P.P., executive vice president at the Institute for Clinical and Economic Review (ICER) in Boston and Peter Bach, M.D., director of the Memorial Sloan Kettering’s Center for Health Policy and Outcomes in New York City addressed at the Feb. 15 meeting of AHCJ’s New York chapter. Dan Goldberg of Politico moderated the session. Continue reading
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. Continue reading
Source: Robinson JC, Whaley C, Brown TT. Association of Reference Pricing for Diagnostic Laboratory Testing with Changes in Patient Choices, Prices, and Total Spending for Diagnostic Tests. JAMA Intern Med. Published online July 25, 2016. doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2016.2492.
When Safeway, a grocery store chain, introduced reference pricing for the most commonly used clinical laboratory tests, spending on those tests dropped by 32 percent over three years, according to a recent study.
Using reference pricing, Safeway saved $2.57 million over the three years of the study (2011 to 2013). Of that amount, $1.05 million (41 percent) went back into consumers’ pockets, and the remaining $1.70 million accrued to Safeway, the study showed. Also, reference pricing led to a 32 percent drop in the average price that consumers paid for 285 different lab tests.
The researchers concluded that reference pricing can lead to savings for employers, workers and family members. JAMA Internal Medicine published the study online on July 25. Continue reading
Source: Health Care Pricing ProjectResearch from the Health Care Pricing Project shows that among 15 hospitals in Philadelphia, the price of a lower-limb MRI varied so much that a consumer going to the highest-priced hospital would pay six times more than that same consumer would pay at the lowest-priced hospital.
It’s no secret that health care prices nationwide vary widely from one market to the next, and even within individual markets. A panel on hospital mergers during AHCJ’s Health Journalism 2016 conference in Cleveland will examine the many factors driving these variations in hospital prices. We’ll also discuss how consumers can shop more effectively for the lowest-priced care.
The session, “Merger mania of health providers and the rise of dominant and potential monopolies,” will be 4:40-6 p.m. on Saturday, April 9. Continue reading
Photo: Carla K. JohnsonCraig Garthwaite, assistant professor, Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management (left); Roy Guharoy, Pharm.D. vice president and chief pharmacy officer for the Resource Group at Ascension (middle); and independent journalist and AHCJ member Duncan Moore (right) spoke at the Chicago chapter event “Drug Pricing: Covering the Controversy” at Columbia College in Chicago on Feb. 23.
A blockbuster hepatitis C drug costs $84,000, straining state budgets. Martin Shkreli acquires the rights to a generic and raises its price 5,000 percent. Presidential candidates react to the public outcry, claiming they know what to do about the drug prices.
What does it all mean? Until recently, “there’s been an equilibrium in the public mind between a free market regimen of the market setting prices and what the public and payers are willing to pay,” said independent journalist Duncan Moore, “but there are indications this informal tradeoff has begun to swing out of control.” Continue reading