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Commentary: Make drugmakers justify their price increases | HeraldNet

At a time when we at Kaiser Permanente are working hard to find efficiencies that bring down costs, our pharmaceutical costs keep going up. In the last two years, prescription drug prices for Kaiser Permanente in Washington have increased by $70 million.

The situation is even worse for specialty drugs. These higher-cost, hard-to-manufacture, or hard-to-handle/administer medications make up a small percentage of prescriptions, yet by 2020 they’re expected to account for more than half of pharmacy costs in the United States.

For example, take Evzio, a life-saving pre-filled auto-injection medication that reverses opioid overdoses. The price increased 500 percent from $690 in 2014 to $4,500 in 2017. We don’t know why the price went up; it’s the same medication in the same package.

We are also hearing from diabetic patients that the cost of insulin has skyrocketed, becoming prohibitively expensive for some patients. The cost of insulin has more than doubled in the last five years, driving the annual cost of insulin to more than $6,000 for most patients. News outlets have documented how the rising cost has resulted in patients rationing their insulin, sometimes with fatal results. This should not happen.

Part of the problem is that these corporations operate in the dark. Even though affordable access to drugs could mean life or death to our patients, drug companies — and drug companies alone — set the wholesale price of a drug. As a result, drug companies have full control over the starting point of all price negotiations.

Under the current system, drug companies have too much power and not enough accountability. That has caused prices to skyrocket without justification. At the same time, the pharmaceutical companies spend more on marketing than on research and development.

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Commentary: Make drugmakers justify their price increases | HeraldNet.com.