Viewpoint: Why limiting patient choice is the wrong approach to lowering drug prices

Megan Knowles - Print  | 

After the Trump administration outlined a number of actions the federal government should take to address rising drug prices, two prescribing physicians argue these proposals may not only fail to lower drug prices, but also significantly limit Medicare patients' access to critical therapies, according to an op-ed in The Hill.

Here are six takeaways from the op-ed, written by David Daikh, MD, PhD, president of the American College of Rheumatology and Ralph Sacco, MD, president of the American Academy of Neurology.

1. The administration is proposing a plan that would consolidate certain physician-administered drugs covered under Medicare Part B into Part D. "We know from current experience that Part D drug coverage is rife with problematic insurer practices that hurt patients and drive up costs, such as specialty drug tiers and prior authorization requirements," the authors wrote.

2. As a result, the negative effects of these practices will only become stronger if Part B drugs are moved into the Part D structure, due to how expensive many Part B drugs are and that there a not a lot of treatment options, the authors noted. "Transitioning Part B drugs into Part D would not only make it more difficult for our patients to access the medications they need, but it would also be unlikely to save much money."

3. The administration's proposal seeks to further limit therapy options based on a drug's price, which the authors argue is a "dangerous experiment that targets the wrong part of the drug delivery chain and threatens our patients' health and wellbeing."

4. "If the administration truly wants to lower drug prices, it should promote policies that expand — not limit — competition and choice, the authors wrote. "Regulatory policy should support expedited FDA approval of new biosimilar therapies, which will increase competition and drive down prices." Additionally, the authors suggested the administration should work with Congress to increase transparency in the drug supply chain.

5. Resulting cost reductions should also be passed down as savings to consumers, as the administration has proposed, the authors noted. "Lowering the price of a drug does no good if patients continue to pay the same price for it."

6. "As the administration and Congress take on the sizable task of solving America's drug pricing problem, we urge our nation's leaders to support proposals that increase choice and competition — and abandon those that limit patient access to vital drugs," the authors concluded.

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Senator calls out drugmakers for buying back stocks rather than slashing prices for consumers 

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