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Blame Big Pharma for Out-of-Control Health Care Costs

The BriefGet Up To Speed

Health care costs in the U.S. are some 18 percent of GNP, nearly double what other rich countries spend. We read of drug therapies that cost $100,000 a year or more, and of drug price increases that are 6 times the rate of inflation, on average, and often much more when mergers reduce competition in the industry. Is this a major driver of excessive health care costs? Or is it a by-product of the huge costs of getting new drugs approved? Has big pharma delivered drugs that reduce the need for costly surgeries, which extend life and improve its quality? Or do they deserve the blame that has been leveled against them?

This debate is presented In Partnership with the Adam Smith Society, a project of the Manhattan Institute. The Adam Smith Society is a nationwide, chapter-based association of MBA students and business leaders who work to promote on campus debate and discussion about the moral, social, and economic benefits of capitalism.
IQ2US health care debates are 
also generously supported by Thomas Campbell Jackson


Overview of health care spending in the United states in 2014.

Friday, September 23, 2016
Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services
This Visualizing Health Policy infographic spotlights national spending on prescription drugs and the public’s views on pharmaceutical prices.
Wednesday, May 4, 2016
The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation

Depending on what you count and how you count, drug spending may be an even larger problem than many thought. It clearly is for employers, who foot a large share of the nation’s health-care bills.

Sunday, December 13, 2015
Drew Altman

How much did prescription drug prices rise overall in 2015? More than 10 percent — well in excess of the U.S. inflation rate — according to an analysis released Monday by Truveris, a health-care data company that tracks drug prices. 

Monday, January 11, 2016
Brady Dennis
The Journal analyzed U.S. revenue, prescription volume and wholesale pricing data for 30 top-selling drugs sold through pharmacies last year. See how price increases help fuel revenue growth that exceeds consumer demand.
Monday, October 5, 2015
Chris Canipe and Joseph Walker

Americans regularly cite drug prices as a top health care concern, which may be why presidential candidates keep bringing them up. Congress has jumped into the debate, holding a series of hearings on the issue. But there are no simple answers

Wednesday, April 27, 2016
Katie Thomas
Articles FOR
Our health care system is broken and – given the drug pipeline aimed at maximizing prices and profits – the problems will get worse if change doesn’t happen soon.
Thursday, April 24, 2014
Robert Pearl

From the campaign trail to the halls of Congress, drug makers have spent much of the last year enduring withering criticism over the rising cost of drugs. It doesn’t seem to be working.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016
Katie Thomas

It’s time that we, too, move to stop price-gouging by the pharmaceutical industry — even when no one notices.

Friday, September 25, 2015
Marica Angell

The United States has the dubious honor of paying the highest costs for drugs in the world, even compared with other wealthy nations, such as Canada, Germany, and Japan. In this in-depth feature, Medscape Medical News examines the reasons for this.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014
Rozanne Nelson
Articles AGAINST

The biggest driver of rising health-care spending is the cost of labor, not drugs. 

Tuesday, December 15, 2015
Michael Mandel

A benchmark report estimates that the cost of bringing a drug to market has more than doubled in the past 10 years.

Friday, October 24, 2014
Rick Mullin
Is the ire over high prescription drug prices in the United States escalates, it’s easy to blame pharmaceutical companies. But pharmaceutical companies aren’t to blame. They’ve executed well on the rules set by the U.S. government as well as the “make the most money” dictum set by their stockholders.
Tuesday, September 22, 2015
Rafi Mohammed

Our research shows that when prices fall, innovation falls even more. Patients would see their lives cut short by delayed or absent drugs.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015
Darius Lakdawalla
Price controls on Part D drugs would cripple medical innovation and undermine a successful federal entitlement program
Tuesday, July 26, 2011
Thomas J. Philipson
Government Intervention

The controversy over the cost of EpiPens is prompting a bipartisan effort to force drug makers to detail their costs before they increase prices by more than 10 percent. 

Thursday, September 15, 2016
Christina Flom

Medicare Part D spending on the EpiPen increased more than 1000 percent from 2007 to 2014

Tuesday, September 20, 2016
Juliette Cubanski, Tricia Neuman, and Anthony Damico
Prices Overseas
The United States spends some of the lowest amounts of its total healthcare on prescription drugs relative to other developed nations. But Americans also pay some of the highest prices for those drugs, relative to the rest of the world. 
Monday, September 28, 2015
Nadia Kounang
Norway and other state-run health systems drive hard bargains, and are willing to say no to costly therapy.
Tuesday, December 1, 2015
Jeanne Whalen
2016 Election
In this year’s presidential campaign, health care has taken a back seat. But one issue appears to be breaking through: the rising cost of prescription drugs.
Thursday, September 15, 2016
Julie Rover

Hillary Clinton believes we need to promote competition and leverage our nation’s bargaining power to lower drug costs on behalf of Americans.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016
Though the pharmaceutical industry is in the private sector, drug companies provide a public service. Allowing consumers access to imported, safe and dependable drugs from overseas will bring more options to consumers.
Polls & Public Opinion

Seventy-three percent of Americans think that the cost of prescription drugs is unreasonable and, of those, 76% blame drug makers for setting prices too high, according to a poll by the Kaiser Family Foundation.

Thursday, June 18, 2015
Ed Silverman