A reality around prescription drug costs

KEY TAKEAWAY: There has been a lot of misinformation around the cost of prescription drugs  because the media likes to point fingers.  However, prescription drugs only account for $. 10-$. .12 of every health care dollar spent.

Novartis shocked a lot of people with a $475,000 price tag for their newly approved the first-ever treatment that genetically alters a patient’s own cells to fight cancer, a milestone that is expected to transform treatment in the coming years. However, before people get their bowels in an uproar they should know:

1ne: Novartis said that if a patient does not respond within the first month after treatment, there will be no charge.

2wo: Novartis also said it would provide financial help to families who were uninsured or underinsured.

3hree: Alternate treatments like a bone-marrow transplants, which can cure some cases of leukemia, cost even more, from $540,000 to $800,000.

4our: The approval was based largely on a trial in 63 severely ill children and young adults who had a remission rate of 83 percent within three months.

5ive: Hospital spending – inpatient and outpatient – accounts for nearly half (45.3 percent) of projected insurance rate increases.“Preliminary data indicate that drugs are not likely to have a disproportionate impact on premiums in 2017,” 

These facts do not excuse some drug companies, like Gilead, from charging a premium for their drugs.  It should be noted that Gilead had the highest margin of any drug company, 43%, and used the money to pay cash for another drug company .  The VA, which treats our nation’s veterans, had to deny treatment to many veterans because they could not afford Gilead’s drug.

Even if prescription drugs were free annual health care costs would still be rising . Aging Boomers and extended care along with rising hospital costs are going to continue to cause problems for a lot of people.

Novartis has been excellent in providing financial patient resources and frankly their model should be studied for implementation at other drug companies.

If we really wanted to have an open and honest talk about health care costs, we should look in the mirror.The medical care costs of obesity in the United States are high. In 2008 dollars, these costs were estimated to be $147 billion. The annual nationwide productive costs of obesity obesity-related absenteeism range between $3.38 billion ($79 per obese individual) and $6.38 billion ($132 per obese.

Until we, American’s, learn to take better care of ourselves health care costs are going to continue to rise.

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