AHIP slams pharma for taking advantage of insurers

America's Health Insurance Plans has called out the drug industry for the soaring costs of new specialty medications, saying such expensive pricing is unsustainable and takes unfair advantage of health insurers.

AHIP directed its censure at the Gilead Sciences hepatitis C drug Sovaldi, which costs $84,000 total and about $1,000 per pill, Reuters reported.

"Sovaldi has shown tremendous results, and it's the kind of medical innovation we need to sustain," the insurance lobby said in an AHIP Coverage blog post. "Unfortunately, the drug's maker--taking advantage of a lack of competition--has priced it at an astronomical level that is not sustainable for consumers, innovation, or society."

Although drug companies maintain the high prices account for research and development costs, much of their spending may actually go toward marketing, AHIP CEO Karen Ignagni said at a panel discussion yesterday hosted by The Atlantic, reported The Hill's Healthwatch.

During the panel discussion, John Castellani, president of the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, highlighted the need to re-examine health insurance models since medication copays are usually higher as a percentage than other copays.

AHIP said the two industries should work out the problem of rising drug prices before the government steps in with drug cost reform. "Before we reach a tipping point, we need to find a solution that ensures important drugs like Sovaldi are priced at sustainable levels so that we can foster even more life-saving innovation," states the AHIP Coverage blog post.

To learn more:
- read the Reuters article
- see the AHIP Coverage blog
- check out The Hill's Healthwatch article