[NCHC] AEI Session on Financing Cures: White Hat or White Wash?

Jul 10, 2014

On Friday, July 11, AEI is hosting a session entitled “How will we pay for the cost of cures?”

On its face this seems like a laudatory endeavor.  After all, as a society we need to ensure we have adequate financing mechanisms for medical innovation.  However, there is a risk that the panelists avoid the tough questions and turn the forum into a white wash for Gilead’s extraordinarily high prices.

A few things to look for to decide whether or not this forum is white hat or white wash:

  1. Is there a serious discussion about pricing for new medicines or does this conversation simply assume that public and private payers should pay whatever drug companies choose to charge for their medicines?
  2.  Are panelists willing to have a serious discussion about greater pricing transparency, including methods and rationale for calculating price?
  3. Do panelists believe that companies should be required to provide greater cost-effectiveness data when submitting new drugs to back up claims they often make about future savings?

Gilead’s interest in innovative financing mechanisms appears to be an after-thought to the outraged reaction to the pricing of their drug.  The question on the table should not be how we pay whatever Gilead wants to charge, the question on the table should be whether or not the price is appropriate and what mechanisms we have as a society to ensure the sustainability of the system and innovation.