News from SRG

The United States spending on expensive prescription drugs are expected to continue and burden many Americans.

Recently the FDA announced the endorsement of a pair of medicines, Alirocumab and Evolocumab, which combat heart disease and reduce cholesterol. They are predicted to cost anywhere from $7,000 to $12,000 annually with private insurance companies and the government paying majority of the cost. The drugs offer hope to millions of people with heart disease and high cholesterol, but their access and cost are problematic. Many individuals who would greatly benefit from these drugs are not able to get them because of the price burden.

Sadly high prescription drug prices like these are not uncommon. Companies have been starting to create new, more effective therapies, but prices have dramatically increased. The increase hurts individuals and strains the entire health care sector.

A similar story occurred in 2013 with the Hepatitis C drug, Sovaldi. The drug was able to cure chronic liver condition with a single treatment, which gave rise to its nickname the “miracle drug.”

The question arose: How much for a miracle?

 Sovaldi cost $1,000 per pill and $84,000 for a standard 12-week course. The government, health insurers, and pharmacies were outraged. They tried to drive down the price with increasing market pressure and restrictions. Their efforts were unsuccessful.

This war is not predicted to end. It will continue over the next decade.

A study found that 10 “breakthrough” therapy drugs could cost state and federal government $50 billion and Medicare will cost $31 billion.

It is not only a problem for the government. Private insurance companies could be looking at similar issues because of their demand to newest and best products. The demand is causing patients to shoulder more of the cost burden.

Studies are emerging to attempt to lower cost. Express scripts, a pharmacy benefits manager, did a recent study on the 2014 drug bills of Americans. The study found more than 140,000 Americans had drug bills over $100,000, which is a 63% increase from 2013.

Express scripts plays a crucial role in driving down price for new specialty drugs. They strive to find cheaper options to drugs and give them preference.  Hopefully the company can lead to major health care savings.

Despite efforts and numerous studies, prescription drug prices will continue to rise with insurance companies, the government, and Americans bearing the cost.  

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