How Should Pharmacists Address High Drug Costs?

DECEMBER 01, 2015
Recent headlines would suggest that the cost of some drugs is becoming a real issue. 
 
Such headlines include:
·      “HHS addresses rising specialty costs in day-long forum”
·      “Big price increases expected for Medicare drug plan”
·      “New $710-a-day drug saves lives, strains state budgets”  
 
Behind these headlines is the concern that some patients may not be able to access much-needed medications because of high drug costs. We like to think that there is still a free lunch available in health care, but unfortunately, many patients are realizing that this is not true.
 
Could our growing sense that everyone is entitled to excellent health care be getting in the way of our ability to pay for it? The recent headlines seem to suggest this is the case.
 
Are drug costs being picked on because they are easy targets, or is it because they are at the front of tough health care decisions that need to be made? Sure, there have been some drug costs that are hard to justify, but I am under the impression that the market forces at play have led to a mitigation of these apparent excess charges. 
 
As pharmacists, we know that drug therapy with appropriate pharmacist services is cost effective. We also know that we still need better drugs to cure new diseases. 
 
I don’t believe that new drugs will be developed if there is no return available for the research investment. We better be careful how we address the apparent excess cost of some drugs today, or our children may not have the cures they will need when they get older. 
 
Some drugs may cost too much now, but I believe the best way to address this problem is through market forces. Other approaches may give an immediate return, but the longer-term consequences may be worse than intended.


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