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Saturday, April 2, 2016

Curbing drug costs

American College of Physicians

cinemagraph pharmacy

The American College of Physicians (ACP) calls for changes that could slow the rising cost of prescription drugs. The policy paper, Stemming the Escalating Cost of Prescription Drugs, is published in Annals of Internal Medicine.

ACP president, Wayne J. Riley, MD, MPH, MBA, MACP, says that rising prescription drug costs can be detrimental to patients, causing them to forgo filling important prescriptions or not taking drugs on the schedule that they are prescribed. 

But addressing the issue is complex because the research, development, regulatory and payment systems for prescription medication are deeply intertwined. 

As such, competition alone may not be effective in encouraging innovation or controlling costs, especially without the price transparency required for true price competition.

ACP's paper offers a series of recommendations aimed at addressing and slowing down the rate of price increase for prescription drugs. In brief, ACP calls for:
  • transparency in the pricing, cost, and comparative value of all pharmaceutical products;
  • the elimination of restrictions on using quality adjusted life years in comparative effectiveness research;
  • use of novel approaches, including allowing price negotiation by Medicare and other publicly-funded health programs;
  • approaches that encourage value-based decision making;
  • patient cost-sharing that is not set at a level that imposes a substantial economic barrier to patients; and
  • policies on biosimilar drugs that limit patient confusion between originator and biosimilar products.