Thursday, October 16, 2014

What the Market Will Bear: Pricing Pressures and Pharmaceutical Value

Until recently, the high prices of drugs seemed to be something like the weather—something people complained a lot about, but about which nothing could be done. That may be changing.  I think the push-back on drug pricing is reaching new levels and both the pharmaceutical industry and its chief lobbying group, PhRMA, are showing concern and taking action.  Examples of the pushback on pricing can be seen in this CBS 60 Minutes clip and in this article on Gilead’s pricing of its newer-than-Sovaldi combination Hep C drug Harvoni.  The level to which this rising criticism of drug prices is causing PhRMA to be seriously concerned can be seen in its post-60 Minutes statement and in this video  and accompanying text about treatments for cancer and in this shot across the bow of critics of drug prices.  PhRMA is even suing the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services over a rule that requires Orphan Drugs that also have non-Orphan Drug uses that are priced at a discount, to be sold the discount price even when a hospital uses the drug for the Orphan use. I will address this PhRMA Orphan Drug suit in a future post.  The pharmaceutical industry lobbying group is clearly pulling out all the stops to make the case that pharmaceutical R&D is a very costly enterprise and that expensive drugs are well worth their high prices because of the health benefits they provide.

Friday, October 3, 2014

Cancer Drugs, Survival, Research Priorities, and the Human Condition

It is fundamental to human nature to hope, and one manifestation of this aspect of human nature is the desperate but understandable desire of cancer patients with very grave prognoses to look for a glimmering possibility of beating the odds. In this post I will look closely at the data on an anti-cancer antibody may have incrementally raised the bar in the treatment of one particularly grave cancer and discuss how this and other similar cancer drug development fits within the current framework of healthcare delivery and reimbursement.