By Jeff Overly
May 21, 2014
Executives representing drugmakers, employers and health insurers sparred Wednesday at a high-profile forum on soaring prescription drug prices, clashing over the need for higher-deductible plans, government cost controls and streamlined approvals at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. The event, dubbed Future of Medicine and held in Washington, D.C., addressed ballooning prices for so-called specialty drugs that often carry five-figure or six-figure price tags and are increasingly being used for common diseases in addition to rare conditions. Much discussion focused on Gilead Sciences Inc.’s $1,000-per-day hepatitis C medication Sovaldi, a new product that racked up $2.1 billion in U.S. sales during 2014’s first quarter and sparked intense debate about the nation’s drug bill. Karen Ignagni, CEO of trade group America’s Health Insurance Plans, made repeated references to Sovaldi and said that its price would “blow up” the budgets of consumers, businesses, insurers and government programs. “The reality is that the company in this case is asking for a blank check, and you can’t give anyone anymore a blank check in the health care system,” Ignagni said.