Monday, July 21, 2014
Specialty Drug Prices are Killing the Patients
I know I have blogged about this before but it just irks me of the inequalities that I see in this system. I do not have a grudge against big pharma. I really do not. I just wish there was more change in the system where drug companies seem to be tightening the noose on patients who are trying to survive.
Is your life worth $100,000 annually? Can you afford $1000 monthly in drug copays? If you ask the big pharma companies, it is. The majority of the new drugs approved last year by the FDA are specialty drugs, 19 of 28 (which is an appallingly low number of approvals to me but that's another story for another day). These come with the hefty, specialty price tags.
"Fewer than 4 percent of patients use specialty drugs, but they account for 25 percent of total drug spending in the United States; and the growth of specialty drugs is a key factor driving up health care spending, according to PricewaterhouseCoopers."
Many insurance plans provide affordable co-pays for the drugs. But more and more, as a cost saving effort, are switching to tiered plans. I have one where generics are very cheap but brand names drugs can be very expensive. They can be 35% of the retail... I can avoid much of that by mail order but still when one month of one drug has a co-pay of $105, it begins to add up. More and more insurers are moving to this type of coverage as they cannot afford to keep up with the new drug prices. I do not blame them with the costs of these drugs.
We have an industry which is full of employee perks and generous salaries and we have insurance companies who are trying to balance their budgets and patients who are being killed by their drug payments. Where does that problem lie?
This system needs to change. Its not all the pharma companies fault, there is some blame to be borne by the insurance companies as well. Moving costs to the patients is not the best option either.