Premier says health system execs are worried about drug supplies, prices

A new economic survey by the Premier purchasing group concludes that access to pharmaceuticals is a pressing issue among C-suite executives within healthcare systems.

More than 92 percent of respondents say they consider pharmaceutical price increases a challenge to their organizations, according to the survey. Nearly 60 percent say they strongly agree with that statement. And more than 92 percent of those surveyed say that drug shortages will pose a challenge for their organizations for the next three years.

Drug prices have been going through the roof during the past couple of years. A recently released study by the benefits consulting firm Aon Hewitt concluded that prices for specialty drugs could rise as much as 23 percent in 2016--up from an 18 percent rise in 2014. Many cancer patients--even those who are insured--wind up facing six-figure bills for the care as cancer drug prices continue to rise. And companies such as Turing Pharmaceuticals are buying up old-line drugs and jacking up prices.

Meanwhile, the American public has been conflicted about the trends in pricing. They are generally grateful for the availability of drugs, but still skeptical as to the reasons behind the price hikes.

"Providers are finding it increasingly difficult to deliver outstanding patient care in the midst of ongoing drug shortages and ever increasing pharmaceutical pricing," Michael J. Alkire, Premier's chief operating officer, said in a statement. He added that "a potential solution to rising drug costs being considered is for manufacturers to replace their fee-for-service contracts with those that reward how well their products work....another challenge is the lack of cross-continuum clinical data, so the ability to effectively track drug performance is limited."

Alkire also said the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has a work backlog of more than 4,000 applications for generic drugs, whose introduction to the market could lower prices and increase competition. He noted that Premier's primary lobbying group, the Healthcare Supply Chain Association, was pressing Congress on the matter.

To learn more:
- read the Premier statement