Read recent commentaries about drug-cost issues.
The New York Times: Treat Medicines Like Netflix Treats Shows
Why don’t streaming services like Hulu or Netflix go bankrupt? After all, most businesses couldn’t survive if customers paid a flat subscription fee each month for all they could eat or all the gasoline they could use. Yet you can pay Netflix $8.99 and watch one movie or all 342 episodes (so far) of “Grey’s Anatomy.” Netflix doesn’t care. Netflix and Hulu can do this because they sell products with a very low marginal cost. Movies and TV shows are expensive to make. But once that’s done, each new stream costs Netflix little or nothing. Another product works in a similar way: medicine. (Tina Rosenberg, 3/5)
The New York Times: Big Pharma’s Hunt For New Drugs Is Pushing Up Cost Of Deals
Acquisitions of American biotech companies are surging, and so are the prices that buyers are willing to pay.Just two months into the year, the value of deals for biotech and pharmaceutical companies in the United States has reached $146 billion, according to Dealogic. That is more than what was announced in all of 2018, 2017 or 2016, and it accounts for 40 percent of all takeover announcements in the United States so far. (Stephen Grocer, 2/28)
Bloomberg: To Lower Drug Prices, Trump HHS Rightly Targets PBM Rebates
The Trump administration’s latest idea to lower prescription drug prices is to eliminate the rebates that drug companies pay to the pharmacy benefit managers that stand between the manufacturers and their final customers. This is easily the most radical change to the American drug-pricing system that the White House has proposed. (3/1)
The Wall Street Journal: ‘Ten Drugs’ Review: Better Living Through Chemistry
In an age of technological wonders, few can equal the life-altering and life-saving drugs that have poured forth from laboratories and research teams in the 20th and early 21st centuries. Anti-psychotic drugs have emptied mental hospitals. Antibiotics have added years to average life expectancy. Birth control pills have transformed sex lives—and mores. Seeming miracles can feel almost routine: Jimmy Carter, after being diagnosed with metastatic melanoma in 2015, took a recently approved drug called pembrolizumab, which redirected his immune system and played a decisive role in ridding him of cancer. (John Steele Gordon, 3/5)
Stat: Ultomiris: Can Drug Innovation Be Too Expensive?
When it comes to new drugs, how much are we willing to pay for innovation? That question, touched on by Craig Garthwaite and Benedic Ippolito in their First Opinion on drug prices, deserves a deeper look. A new biologic drug, Ultomiris, made by Alexion Pharmaceuticals, is a prime example of innovation that may be too expensive. (Alexander Urry, 3/1)
The Wall Street Journal: The Side Effects Of Million-Dollar Drugs
It’s only a matter of time until the first million-dollar drug arrives in a deeply dysfunctional health-care system. With the new drugs come painful questions: Who is stuck with the bill, do they have the cash to pay it and how can they avoid the obligation?The age of gene therapy promises a wave of life-changing and life-saving medicines. Some have been approved, like Luxturna from Spark Therapeutics, which treats a hereditary disease that causes blindness and affects roughly 2,000 patients in the U.S. Roche agreed to buy the company this week for more than double its previous market value, in large part for some promising treatments for hemophilia. (Charley Grant, 3/1)
The Detroit News: Gutting Patents Will Stall Medicine Progress
Congress could soon vote on legislation that would gut America’s intellectual property laws.The bill isn’t just bad news for big pharmaceutical companies that hold lucrative patents. It’s terrible news for patients — medical research spending would dry up without strong patent protections. Americans could lose out on cures for cancer, heart disease, and other deadly chronic conditions. (Wayne Winegarden, 2/28)
Columbus Dispatch: Lowering Drug Prices Will Require Bold Action
Concerns over the cost of medication are brought up on such a frequent basis with physicians across the nation that it has become a prominent topic in the media. Voters are becoming more engaged on the issue, but rather than providing meaningful reform, some politicians are providing inadequate solutions while trumpeting change. (Ean Bett, 3/6)
This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.
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