High prescription drug prices will be a top-tier political issue in 2016 as the expected introduction of many expensive specialty medications to treat chronic conditions threatens to drive up healthcare spending.
“With drugs in development for diabetes and hypertension, these are conditions that affect a very large number of people,” said John Rother, CEO of the National Coalition on Health Care. “The fiscal impact could be quite substantial on private health plans, government and individuals.”
Concerns about how pharmaceutical companies set prices on new and old drugs exploded into the public consciousness in 2013 when Gilead Sciences introduced its $84,000 hepatitis C treatment Sovaldi. Since then, specialty drugs have been introduced with prices well above $100,000 for a year's worth of treatment, a trend that is expected to accelerate in 2016. In addition, drugmakers have jacked up prices for generic drugs that have been around for many years.