Dr Gerard Anderson Discusses Barriers to Accessing Medications

High drug prices have created barriers to accessing medications, and Gerard Anderson, PhD, of Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, suggests that the pricing algorithms need to change in order to improve this dilemma.
Transcript (slightly modified)
What do you view as the biggest barrier to access to medications?
I’m really focused on the high cost drugs. So, for that it’s really the price and we basically have a system where only about 20% of the people can afford these very expensive drugs because a program like Medicare puts very high cost-sharing on it. Medicaid doesn’t typically cover them, the Bureau of Prisons, the Indian Health Services, don’t cover those things because they’re so expensive. So, I think the major problem that I am seeing right now for many people is the very high cost drugs. For a lot of people, they just don’t have any money at all and so even having a very little cost sharing is devastating. A program like the Patient Access Network is critical for them but I think what new situation that is happening is that the very expensive drugs have become the problem.

How can access be improved?
Essentially for the very high cost drugs, we need to figure out a way to get price times quantity down, so that the price is way down and the quantity is way up. Right now, the pricing algorithms that most of the drug companies have assume that very few people will buy the drug at a very high price, and from a public health point of view, we want a lower price but a much higher quantity so that the drug companies still have the same revenue, but we essentially get as many people as possible covered.
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