AHIP Speakers: Soaring Drug Prices Reach Crisis Stage

Ryan Basen | MedPage Today | March 9, 2017

Trump, insurers, docs agree: something needs to be done

On the same day that President Trump met with Democratic leaders to discuss controlling prescription drug costs, physician advocates and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.) debated and vented about drug costs at the America's Health Insurance Plans (AHIP) National Health Policy Conference. "The system is broken right now," Marilyn Tavenner, AHIP's CEO and former administrator of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, said Wednesday.

"This is madness, this is reprehensible, and this has to stop," said American Medical Association president Andrew Gurman, MD. "When I see some of these idiots increasing the price of a known drug by 300% ...," Gingrich said, shaking his head and drawing light applause from the crowd. He called this practice "so anti-patriotic, short-sighted, and greedy." Many other companies do have substantial research and development expenses, he noted, justifying some costs.

"We are getting to the point now where [it's] not the case" that many Americans can afford new drugs that they need, said Aaron Kesselheim, MD, JD, a pharmacoeconomics researcher at Harvard Medical School. "This is the fastest area of cost growth in healthcare," said Martin Makary, MD, a health policy and management professor at Johns Hopkins University. "People are getting crushed out there"...