The pharmaceutical industry is facing growing pushback on high prescription drug costs.
Last week, more than 100 cancer specialists from across the country published a letter urging more aggressive federal steps to address soaring drug prices, which they said harm patients. They noted that cancer patients who receive life-prolonging drugs often face bills that are several times greater than their annual family income.
They urged allowing the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute to include drug pricing in its assessments of a treatment's value, and letting Medicare negotiate lower drug prices.
In addition, the cancer specialists recommended creating a mechanism to review fair pricing for drugs approved by the Food and Drug Administration.
Federal law prohibits the CMS from negotiating drug prices for Medicare, and generally bars HHS from considering cost in Medicare coverage decisions. Efforts several years ago to allow consideration of cost in comparative-effectiveness research prompted a conservative firestorm over alleged “death panels.”
But a growing number of policymakers and healthcare industry groups are pressing for action to reduce drug prices, and public opinion polls show strong support.
Also last week, the Institute for Clinical and Economic Review (ICER) announced it would begin releasing reports comparing clinical effectiveness and prices of drugs, as well as analyzing their potential impact on the U.S. healthcare system and economy.
The not-for-profit organization will set a value-based benchmark for pricing. The project is funded by a new $5.2 million grant from the Laura and John Arnold Foundation.
“What we're trying to do is create a transparent way to look at the relationship of the price with the value the drug brings to patients,” ICER President Dr. Steven Pearson said. “Drug prices have been trending upward quite dramatically in recent years. But the idea that insurers are just going to cover any new drug, at any price, whether or not there is benefit, is over.”