SECOND OPINION: Big Pharma Continues Pointing Fingers for Excessive Drug Prices

Apparently, when it comes to out-of-control drug prices, everyone’s to blame but drug makers themselves, who are solely responsible for setting the list prices of the medications we need.

Now, Big Pharma is pointing fingers at hospitals, accusing them of price gouging patients – despite the fact that big drug makers have increased the prices of their drugs at 10 times the rate of inflation.

The notion that hospitals are responsible for rising drug prices could not be further from the truth.  Here are the facts

  • CLAIM: “Nearly one in five hospitals marks up medicine prices 700 percent or more … if a hospital purchased a medicine for $150, a 700 percent markup could result in patients being billed $1,050 for that medicine.”
  • FACT: Hospitals are subject to fixed reimbursements for the vast majority of care they provide.  The true driver behind these rising drug costs are Big Pharma’s willingness to do anything for an extra dollar, even if it means forcing patients to choose between paying for the medicines they need and their daily life necessities.
  • CLAIM: “In order to make medicines more affordable for patients, we must address the role hospital markups play in driving up medicine costs.”
  • FACT: A 2015 study showed that inpatient drug spending per hospital admission increased more than 38 percent between 2013 and 2015, and continually rising drug prices are the primary driver behind the phenomenon.

As The Associated Press wrote, here’s what hospitals are actually facing:

Drug shortages have been widespread for more than a decade, particularly for inexpensive generic drugs, due to manufacturers consolidating, stopping production of low-profit medicines and having to fix manufacturing problems.  Hospitals are particularly hard hit and frequently must scramble to find scarce medicines, often at huge price markups, or come up with workarounds that may not be as effective or safe for patients.”

So rather than point fingers like Big Pharma, hospitals are taking action.  Last week, several hospital systems and philanthropies announced they are joining forces to launch a nonprofit generic drug company that will increase competition, drive down costs and ultimately make affordable drugs more available.  Fortune Magazine lauded the new “superstar team” for “taking the matter into its own hands.”

CSRxP will continue to fact check Big Pharma’s false claims and move forward with patient-focused solutions to increase transparency, promote competition and ensure a drug’s price is based on how well it works for patients.

CLICK HERE to read the last installment of the Second Opinion series, focused on the important role of pharmacy benefit managers in lowering drug prices.