Name, Sponsor, Link to the Event
The event name is U.S. Drug Prices: Why Are They So High? The sponsor of the event was Reuters. The link to the forum is https://theforum.sph.harvard.edu/events/u-s-drug-prices/.
Place, Date, Length of the Event
The event was live-streamed from the Harvard Chan School on September 26, 2018, and lasted one hour (12 p.m.-1 p.m.).
Names of Participants and Their Titles
Caroline Humer, a Reuters correspondent; Aaron Kesselheim, Associate Professor of Medicine at the Harvard Medical School; Richard Frank, Professor of Health Economics at the Harvard Medical School; Steven Pearson, President of the Institute for Clinical and Economic Review; Leemore Dafny, Professor of Business Administration at the Harvard Business School.
Brief Summary of the Topic Discussed
Drug prices in the United States are extremely high, even if consumers do not realize this fact because their costs are covered by insurance. An effective policy to decrease these prices is required, but the program introduced by President Trump in May 2018 can be regarded as inefficient. More actions are needed to address the issue successfully.
Analysis of the Health Policy Issue and Its Implications for Health Care
In the United States, the prices for drugs are higher than in other developed countries, the overall spending of the country on prescription medications is significant, and it tends to rise. The problem is that people in the USA are not aware of the full price for their prescribed medicines, and a variety of drivers influence costs and final prices (“U.S. drug prices,” 2018). Thus, in many cases, uninsured individuals cannot afford purchasing necessary medicines (Wineinger et al., 2019). These aspects were discussed by the experts participating in the forum of the Harvard Chan School. The process of determining prices for prescription drugs is complex, and to make them more affordable to patients, strong policies addressing regulation and market competition issues are required.
In spite of the fact that President Trump announced the development of a policy to reduce drug prices in May 2018, it was not effective to address all the aspects associated with medicine pricing. Thus, President Trump accentuated reforming the medicine discount program, minimizing regulatory issues, and increasing competition in the market (Sterling, 2018). Although these aspects are discussed as critical for changing the current situation in the country regarding drug prices and their affordability for patients, they are not enough to lead to direct decreases in prices (Shi & Singh, 2019; Wineinger et al., 2019). The reason is that the costs for patients could be decreased in the context of certain programs, but actual prices continued to rise.
The main factors to be taken into account when developing a policy aimed at decreasing prices of drugs include the presence of sheltering programs for patients, the decreased competition of generics, and price negotiation issues. If there are copayment coupons and Medicare coverage for drugs, actual prices remain unknown for patients, and they still affect market tendencies. The negotiation for prices becomes negatively affected as it was noted by the experts of the forum (“U.S. drug prices,” 2018). The absence of effective competition from generics also makes brand name drug prices increase, among other factors.
Potential solutions to the discussed issue in order to address patients’ interests and price sensitivity in the United States may include changes in policies regulating setting prices on drugs and prescribing generics. Furthermore, physicians and patients need to be informed about actual prices and available alternatives (Shi & Singh, 2019; Wineinger et al., 2019). The market competition between generics and brand name medicines need to be promoted (“U.S. drug prices,” 2018). These steps can provide consumers with a variety of attractive options to choose from.
Although the process of determining prices for drugs is complex, the provision of affordable medicines for consumers should be a priority for developing a policy. To be viewed as a strong policy to decrease drug prices, it should address regulation, market competition, and price negotiation issues, among others. The focus should be on accentuating the position of less expensive generics in the market to give patients the right to choice.
Shi, L., & Singh, D. A. (2019). Delivering healthcare in America: A systems approach (7th ed.). Jones & Barlett Learning.
Sterling, J. (2018). President Trump reveals plan to cut drug prices. Genetic Engineering & Biotechnology News, 38(12), 1-30. Web.
U.S. drug prices: Why are they so high? (2018). The Forum. Web.
Wineinger, N. E., Zhang, Y., & Topol, E. J. (2019). Trends in prices of popular brand-name prescription drugs in the United States. JAMA Network Open, 2(5), e194791. Web.