A discussion of drug prices from a thinkfest in Aspen

Summary: Here’s the transcript of a thoughtful panel discussion on drug prices from the Aspen Institute, involving Zeke Emanuel, the co-founder of Blink Health, a Consumer Reports person, a hospital representative, and a pharma person, among others. Read and weep. Sample passage: “She did what thousands of Americans did and have told us that they do, when a price hike is this profound, they just walk away from the prescription. She did not fill the prescription, so as many physicians in the audience, you know that by not taking your rheumatoid arthritis treatment, not only do your symptoms get worse but the actual disease worsens. … her doctors were furious at her because that she had become debilitated from not taking her drugs. She couldn’t even do normal household chores. She finally went online and through using some coupon, discount coupon services … she was able to get the price down something closer to $300. Now that is still a profound amount for her. She said she struggles with this. Marlene and her situation, we estimate she was one of 33 million Americans just in the last 12 months who told us that their drug prices had hiked unexpectedly at the pharmacy counter for drugs they take all the time. So it’s not just high-end very expensive drugs, it was old school generics. It was branded drugs, it was everything.” Source: “Deep Dive: Drug prices and access to medicine,” The Aspen Institute, June, 2016. Participants: Kirsten Axelson, Pfizer; Geoffrey Chaiken, Blink Health; Ken Davis, Mount Sinai Health System; Ezekiel Emanuel, University of Pennsylvania; Lisa Gill, Consumer Reports; Kiah Williams, Sirum; Alan Weil, Health Affairs.