HHS Report Suggests That Patient Health Continues to Take a Back Seat to Medical Companies’ Pursuit of Maximum Profits

Dec. 13, 2016

HHS Report Suggests That Patient Health Continues to Take a Back Seat to Medical Companies’ Pursuit of Maximum Profits

Statement of Steven Knievel, Access to Medicines Advocate

Note: Late Monday, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services released its report to Congress, “Prescription Drugs: Innovation, Spending and Patient Access.”

Medical companies and manufacturers continue to prioritize raising prices at the expense of a healthier America.

The report released Monday by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) paints a stark portrait of prescription drug pricing and access in the United States. While expanded insurance coverage under Obamacare has lowered the number of people skipping doses because of cost, companies continue to demand ever-higher prices, and insurance companies are increasingly shifting medicine “costs to patients through higher deductibles, copayments and coinsurance rates.” As long as these trends continue, patients’ access to affordable medicines will be under ever-greater threat.

HHS is right to recognize that the high prices driving these trends are not a force of nature, nor are they justified by industry spin about research and development costs. Similar to the report on Gilead’s pricing of Sovaldi released by U.S. Sens. Ron Wyden and Charles Grassley one short year ago, HHS concludes, “in reality, the prices charged are unrelated to their development costs. Drug manufacturers set prices to maximize profits.”

Public Citizen agrees. Patients get no benefit from a medication they can’t afford. Lifesaving medications must be affordable and accessible. Congress should act urgently to rein in pharma’s monopolistic pricing abuses.

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