Coalition to push drugmakers on prices

A coalition of hospitals, insurers and businesses released a policy proposal that aims to increase drug pricing transparency, promote competition and that "strikes a balance between innovation and affordability."

The Campaign for Sustainable Rx Pricing includes a mix of payers, providers and other groups and businesses, including the Federation of American Hospitals (FAH)), the American Hospital Association, the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association, Kaiser Permanente and the AARP. It's a project of the National Coalition on Health Care Action Fund. 

"We aren't talking about price controls; we are talking about something quite different, shining a light on processes and speeding things up," Chip Kahn, president of the FAH, told The Washington Post.

The six-page proposal calls for reforms that require:

  • Manufacturers to disclose how they set their prices and how much they spend on research and development
  • A government-sponsored annual price transparency report that would include the top 50 price increases for generic and branded drugs
  • A reduction in the 12-year exclusivity period for biological drugs
  • More funding to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to speed up processing of applications for generic drugs and to clear the current backlog
  • Closing loopholes that make it more difficult for generic drugmakers to bring less expensive products to market and increased oversight of "pay for delay" settlements

Drug prices have risen by double-digit percentages in recent years, placing pressure on hospitals and other providers to respond. Some hospitals have relied more on pharmacists to try and bend the cost curve. Others have engaged in decisions as to which patients should receive certain drugs, drawing criticism for such practices.

"We have worked pretty hard to raise this at the presidential campaign level, and each of the candidates has acknowledged this is an issue," John Rother, CEO of the coalition and head of the campaign, told the Post

The pharmaceutical sector opposes any changes. An official with the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America told the Post that the coalition was a way for the insurance companies to deflect scrutiny of their role in drug pricing.

To learn more:
- here's a summary of the proposal (.pdf)
- here's the full proposal (.pdf)
- read The Washington Post article