Drug Pricing - Is This a Turning Point?

Dec 7, 2016
Every dollar saved today, is an opportunity to pay for tomorrow’s innovations. To accomplish this goal, we have to come together as an industry, and as a society, to do many things better.

Ashley Article

In the past few weeks, we’ve seen a re-commitment to the social contract drug makers have with patients. Novo Nordisk and Allergan made pledges in the past week to hold the line on drug prices. Mylan has taken responsibility for the price increases for EpiPen, and is promising to do more to advance affordability. Other colleagues have been self-reflective, opening a dialog about what they want their reputation to be.

As we have said, there is no silver bullet to solving the problem of high drug prices. However, these discussions and concrete actions of some drug makers are a strong start, and we hope they are the first of many more to come. These discussions to control costs have never been more important, as recent estimates put global drug spend at $1.5 trillion by 2021, according to a new report from Quintiles IMS Holding.

Our job at Express Scripts is to make sure our patients, and our clients who provide them a pharmacy benefit, are getting medicines at the lowest net cost. Sometimes, in the drug pricing debate, observers can confuse price and cost, putting blame on various parts of the drug distribution system, when in fact, all of us have a role to play in achieving better affordability and accessibility for medicine.

What Novo Nordisk and Allergan are acknowledging is that the path we are on, in terms of ever escalating drug prices, is just not sustainable. We want to reward drug discovery and true innovation. The best way to pay for our future drugs is to make sure we can afford what we currently have. Every dollar saved today, is an opportunity to pay for tomorrow’s innovations. To accomplish this goal, we have to come together as an industry, and as a society, to do many things better:

  • Pharmaceutical companies have to demonstrate more rational drug pricing. They deserve to be rewarded for innovation, but at prices the marketplace can afford, not what it will bear.
  • We need a fully-funded National Institutes of Health and fully-staffed Food and Drug Administration to stoke innovation and ensure safety and efficacy of breakthrough therapies.
  • Payers must closely manage the benefits they provide, ensuring fairness and access, while offering protections to their beneficiaries enrolled in high-deductible plans.

Taking a pledge to limit drug price increases is a step forward. It’s not a leap forward, but it is definitely progress.

We’ve seen many moments in the past few years that might rate as a “turning point” in drug pricing. What you’re seeing now may be another one, and, for a change, we’re turning in a better direction.

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