Yesterday, with great public relations fanfare, a new report from President Trump’s HHS was released showing that drug prices in other countries are often half the price they are in America. Who would have known? Well, for starters, the millions of Americans who are forced to shop internationally in order to afford their meds. Prices in other countries are actually much less than half for many drugs, but this report only looked at drugs in Medicare Part B, ones administered in a clinical setting by a healthcare provider – not picked up at the pharmacy.
Trump’s rhetoric on drug prices is one of the few unifying issues in our deeply-divided country. Trump has stated on several occasions that the “drug companies are getting away with murder.” Murder. Now, while his administration hasn’t really done much at all on drug prices, the latest report puts it out there loud and clear: drug prices are insanely lower in other rich countries than here in the United States.
Tagged with: Alex Azar, part b, Part D, price controls, reference pricing, Stephen J. Ubl, trump
…about the high cost of meds.
For those who want a comprehensive but straightforward explanation about why drug prices are incredibly higher in the U.S. than in other countries, I strongly recommend reading in VOX, “The true story of America’s sky-high prescription drug prices.”
Many of you know that in other countries, such as Australia and Canada, government agencies negotiate with pharmaceutical companies through myriad policy interventions to keep prescription drugs affordable for their citizens. This article explains how that’s done, why it works – but also identifies the tradeoffs where in some cases a new drug is not available outside the U.S. because regulators decide it doesn’t offer additional value over existing drugs.
It also addresses the issue of how research and development to find new drugs may be negatively affected if the U.S. institutes more control over drug prices. Some people argue that broader access to currently available drugs at lower prices means fewer new breakthrough drugs coming to market. [EDIT 12/9/2016: I wanted to make clear that many people do not agree with this position and argue that more drug company profits are spent on marketing and advertising than on research and development and the pharmaceutical industry greatly exaggerates the prospects of less innovation due to drug price controls].
In speaking with lots of people on different sides of the political spectrum and with contrasting governing philosophies — everyone agrees that us Americans are getting a bad deal on drug prices right now. This VOX piece really speaks to the issues at hand, objectively and truthfully, and if you’re interested in “getting it” you should read it.
Tagged with: price controls, VOX
This week in China, the National Development and Reform Commission put dramatic retail drug price cuts into effect. To lower prices, hospitals and clinics are now required to cap the costs for over 1,200 antibiotics and circulatory system drugs, according to Reuters. The 21% average decrease means $1.53 billion savings for Chinese patients – which is good news for them, but what does this mean for Americans?
While many of our drugs or drug ingredients are already manufactured in China, these price cuts won’t reduce the price of those drugs sold in the U.S. What could happen is the opposite. Lower prices in China may further drive increases in U.S. drug prices as drug companies look to the U.S. market to make up for lower margins in China. The U.S. is the only large market in which drug companies can arbitrarily increase their prices. (more…)
Tagged with: China, consumer guide, drug cuts, Drug Prices, healthcare, How to Save Money on Prescription Drugs, National Development and Reform Commission, price controls, retail, United States