[Politico] No consensus on how to afford specialty drugs

May 21, 2014
By Brett Norman
May 21, 2014

The astronomical price of a new “miracle” drug for hepatitis C has insurers and others who ultimately foot health care bills agreeing that drug costs are out of control and must come down.

But there’s little consensus on how to make that happen. Executives from insurers, pharmacy benefit managers and employer groups said Wednesday that the five- and six-figure price tags for such specialty medications are not sustainable. Although Sovaldi is widely seen as an example of the revolutionary promise of an emerging generation of drugs, it and others threaten the health care system with potentially crushing costs.

“The reality is we’re heading off the cliff,” said Steve Miller, chief medical officer of Express Scripts, at The Atlantic’s “The Future of Medicine” event in Washington, D.C. “More and more people are going to need these [drugs], but the ability to pay for them isn’t there.”


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