Partnership for Quality Care Hosts Sustainable Rx Drug Pricing Forum

May 15, 2015, 15:42 ET from Partnership for Quality Care

WASHINGTON, May 15, 2015 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Today, the Partnership for Quality Care (PQC) held a forum to address the dramatically rising costs of prescription drug prices in the United States. "We believe it is important to engage in a broader discussion around specialty drug pricing and to look at this issue from an economic, scientific and social perspective," said Bernard J. Tyson, who is the PQC Chair and Chairman and CEO of Kaiser Permanente. "While the Partnership for Quality Care supports medical innovation, we are concerned about the impact specialty drug prices will have on the affordability and accessibility of health care in this country."

"This is not just affecting a handful of people – families across the country are already having to make tough cutbacks in order to fill necessary prescriptions, with little to no relief in sight," added PQC Secretary and Senior SEIU Advisor, Dennis Rivera. "This is particularly concerning since there are dramatically more 'must have' expensive drugs on the horizon, drugs that promise cures, longer and healthier lives that neither plans nor people can soon afford. It's unsustainable. What we need is a solution and we need one now."

At the center of today's discussion was not only how rising costs are affecting everyday Americans, but also how the pharmaceutical industry got to this point.

"Our policy problem is rooted in the reality that striking the right regulatory balance between encouraging innovation -- by granting temporary monopoly pricing power -- and ensuring affordability for patients and those who typically pay on their behalf (employers, health plans and governments), is very, very hard. In essence, our policy effort has not been commensurate with the complexity of the problem," said Len Nichols, PhD, Director of the Center for Health Policy Research and Ethics and Professor of Health Policy, George Mason University. "We have a compelling social interest in promoting competition as well as innovation, and we need to make clear that monopolies come with responsibility and accountability. Competition is more important to public policy than a blank check for innovation."

Echoing these points, Mitra Behroozi, Executive Director of the 1199SEIU Benefit Funds, said, "New advances in treatments for autoimmune disorders, cancers and hepatitis C have created a growing demand for expensive drugs. Our members are fortunate because, regardless of cost, they have access to these drugs through our comprehensive plans. But our dollars are limited and our need continues to grow."

"Producers at all times try to extract from buyers the maximum price the buyers can be made to pay...The producers of specialty drugs now are probing to find the maximum monetary value we, the rest of society, attach to human life," said Uwe Reinhardt, PhD, James Madison Professor of Political Economy, Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, Princeton University.

Also taking part in today's extensive discussion were:

Peter Bach, MD, Director of the Center for Health Policy and Outcomes, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center

Anthony Barrueta, Senior Vice President of Government Relations, Kaiser Permanente

Ruth Lopert, BMed, MMedSc, FAFPHM, Deputy Director of Pharmaceutical Policy & Strategy, Center for Pharmaceutical Management

Brian Rank, MD, Co-Executive Medical Director, HealthPartners

Matt Salo, Executive Director, National Association of Medicaid Directors

Paul Sherman, MD, Executive Medical Director of the Health Plan Division and Medical Director of Care Systems Development, Group Health Cooperative

Video of the sustainable prescription drug pricing forum will be made available online at the conclusion of the event at: pqc-usa.org/RxForum2015 

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The Partnership for Quality Care is a national labor-management coalition committed to ensuring quality, affordable healthcare for everyone in America. It includes public, private, religious, teaching, and non-profit hospitals nationwide and integrated health systems and the nation's largest healthcare union, SEIU, with more than one million nurses, doctors and healthcare workers. Our members care for more than 50 million patients annually.

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SOURCE Partnership for Quality Care