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Internists Express Concern about Rising Prescription Drug Costs, Offer Solutions

(Boston, April 11, 2016)—“The rising cost of prescription drugs is an overarching concern that is having a real impact on our patients,” said Elisa Choi, MD, American College of Physicians Massachusetts Governor’s Council Treasurer, testifying today before the state legislature’s Joint Committee on Health Care Financing. 

Dr. Choi told the committee in the hearing on An Act to Promote Transparency and Cost Control of Pharmaceutical Prices (S. 1048), that the detrimental effect on patients can cause them to forgo filling important prescriptions or not taking drugs on the schedule that they are prescribed.

In her testimony, Dr. Choi pointed to the portions of the legislation that are in line with the American College of Physicians’ policy on transparency in prescription drug pricing.  The policy supports transparency in the pricing, cost and comparative value of all pharmaceutical products.

Dr. Choi pointed out to the committee the recent example of a federal congressional investigation into the pricing behind Gilead’s groundbreaking Hepatitis C drugs.  The investigation found that Gilead’s pricing strategy was focused on maximizing revenue—even though the company’s own analysis showed that a lower price would allow more patients to be treated. 

The transparency provisions of the bill before the Massachusetts legislature are key components to achieving a better understanding of how companies factor development costs into the price of prescription drugs.  Importantly, the bill says pharmaceutical manufacturers should disclose:

  • the total cost of production,
  • research and development costs of the drugs, including those paid with public funds or by third parties, and
  • marketing and advertising costs.

“ACP believes that transparency initiatives are important stepping stones in an effort to repair the broken prescription drug market and reining in the unsustainable growth in prescription drug pricing,” concluded Dr. Choi. “The transparency provisions in this bill would serve to better inform future efforts around prescription drug pricing.”

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The American College of Physicians is the largest medical specialty organization and the second-largest physician group in the United States. ACP members include 143,000 internal medicine physicians (internists), related subspecialists, and medical students. Internal medicine physicians are specialists who apply scientific knowledge and clinical expertise to the diagnosis, treatment, and compassionate care of adults across the spectrum from health to complex illness. Follow ACP on Twitter and Facebook.

Contact:
Jacquelyn Blaser, (202) 261-4572
jblaser@acponline.org