Drug prices still a major concern for healthcare leaders

Rising drug prices remain a top concern for health system leaders, according to a new survey.

Premier, Inc.’s spring Economic Outlook Survey polled 91 people representing a variety of roles in U.S. health systems, including physicians, C-suite members and supply chain management professionals.

Almost every respondent agreed that increasing pharmaceutical prices pose a significant challenge to their operations. In addition, more than 90% said they would likely experience continued drug shortages over the next three years.

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Drug prices and shortages have consistently ranked among the biggest issues facing health systems over the past two years of surveys, according to an announcement from Premier. Part of the problem is a lack of generic drug options, so a solution to this is increased competition, the organization concluded.

“In our view, one of the best ways to ensure fair pricing is by driving increased competition and greater use of generics and biosimilars,” Michael J. Alkire, Premier’s chief operating officer, said in the announcement.

“At the same time, we also need to provide prescribers with apples-to-apples mechanisms they can use to compare products in a therapeutic category, evidence-based facts around which products deliver optimal quality at the best value and aligned financial incentives.”

Premier noted that generic drug prices have also been rising, exacerbating the problem.

Medications for treatment options like precision medicine are also putting financial strain on health systems, according to the survey. More than 90% of respondents said that increased use of precision medicine would increase what they spend in their supply chain.

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Premier posited that a solution would be more provider-led pharmacies, and the majority of survey respondents agree. Close to 70% of respondents said they felt it will become necessary for providers to operate their own pharmacies.

Provider-led pharmacies can improve medication adherence, which can cut costs and improve outcomes. A pharmacy run by the provider can also monitor adverse effects of different drug therapies and be in a better position to offer financial assistance when needed.