Drug prices: Costly cures

DRUG-COMPANY executives, investment analysts, doctors and academics swarmed into Chicago between May 30th and June 3rd for the year’s biggest meeting on cancer. Treatments for cancer account for more than 30% of pharmaceutical firms’ early-stage research and are being revolutionised. This would seem good news. For Steve Miller, the meeting was also alarming. “We are very concerned about a lot of the different products that were presented this weekend,” he says.His cause for concern is price. Dr Miller is the chief medical officer for Express Scripts, America’s biggest pharmacy-benefit manager (PBM), hired by insurers and employers to control the drugs costs for the patients they cover. In America a melanoma drug from Bristol-Myers Squibb costs nearly $120,000 for a course of treatment. And it is not just cancer treatments that are worrying. An $84,000 drug for hepatitis C, sold by Gilead, another American firm, has caused outrage among politicians and insurers. On May 28th the drug inspired a coalition ranging from doctors to trade unionists to launch a campaign against “unsustainable and abusive” prices. For drug companies this raises a ghastly…

Link to article: www.economist.com/news/business/21603453-american-fight-over-expensive-new-treatments-has-global-implications-costly-cures?fsrc=rss|bus

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