AHA: UnitedHealth report on steep specialty drug costs lets drugmakers off the hook

The American Hospital Association has called UnitedHealth's recent report on specialty drug spending in hospitals and independent practices "flawed," arguing that the authors fail to account for critical differences between care settings and fail to consider that drugmakers are the "chief culprit" in rising drug costs.

The UnitedHealth Group report found that administering specialty drugs in independent physician offices and patient homes, instead of hospital outpatient settings, could save insurers about $4 billion annually. 

The AHA said this report is flawed for several reasons, including that hospitals treat patients who are sicker, older and come from lower-income communities than patients treated in independent physician offices.  

"It does not appear that they accounted for these key differences in patient populations," the AHA wrote in its blog. 

The report also ignores the fact that the main culprit of skyrocketing drug prices are the drugmakers themselves, the AHA claims.  

Spending on specialty drugs is driven by the" high and growing list prices set by drugmakers, not hospitals," the association said.

"Instead of blaming hospitals, the authors of this report should instead keep their attention focused on drug companies who introduce specialty drugs at skyrocketing prices that continue to drive the growth in specialty drug spending," said the AHA. 

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