On this episode of the podcast, Terry and Bob discuss drug pricing in Washington D.C. There are many potential paths that drug pricing reform may take in the next couple of years with competing pieces of legislation in the House of Representatives and the Senate. They note how the Biden administration has frozen Health and Human Services regulations passed under the Trump administration, including the requirement that community hospitals pass along their 340B rebates to their uninsured patients.
Bob interviews Peter Pitts, President and Co-Founder of Center for Medicine in the Public Interest, who discusses prescription drug pricing misnomers. He notes that on a net basis, prescription drug prices have actually gone down over the last year, but Congress is still looking to implement price controls due to an ideological bias. If the government implements price controls, costs will increase, and quality will decrease.
When people say their drugs are too expensive, Peter highlights, what they mean is that their copays are too expensive. Copays have become completely divorced from the underlying price of prescription medications. The government’s price control solution would simply eliminate the most important medications. That move doesn’t help people; it would raise their costs to the extent that hospitalizations and sicknesses are increased.
Rather than prices, Pitts argues, policymakers’ North Star should be value, where medications’ impacts are tracked against patients’ wellbeing. Otherwise, patients with rare and chronic diseases will be left in the lurch, unable to access the drugs they need. Unfortunately, political philosophy is trumping intelligence. “For every complex solution,” Pitts paraphrases Twain, “there’s a simple solution that’s wrong.” They conclude their conversation about how the country can move away from the destructive prescription drug rebate system.
Patient correspondent Kate Pecora talks with Taylor Kane, the founder and president of Remember the Girls, which unites, educates, and empowers female carriers of x-linked genetic disorders. Taylor explains that many health professionals believe that women can only be carriers of x-linked diseases and don’t have symptoms. This belief, argues Taylor, is wrong to the point of sexist. In fact, more than 80 percent of carriers will develop symptoms, which geneticists don’t fully understand why. Taylor talks about the significant sex and gender disparities in healthcare research, with women often not included in clinical trials. As a result, doses for women may be mis-calibrated. She concludes by discussing her legislative efforts to expand health coverage for genetic testing.