Furor Over Drug Prices Puts Patient Groups in Bind: The New York Times

Filed Under: Costs, Health plans, Patients

Summary: “Public anger over the cost of drugs has burned hot for a year, coursing through social media, popping up on the presidential campaign, and erupting in a series of congressional hearings, including one last week over the rising price of the allergy treatment EpiPen,” writes Katie Thomas at The New York Times. “But one set of voices has been oddly muted — the nation’s biggest patient advocacy groups. The groups wield multimillion-dollar budgets and influence on Capitol Hill, but they have been largely absent in the public debate over pricing.To those who have closely followed the drug world, the reason is simple: Many of the groups receive millions of dollars a year in donations from companies behind the drugs used by their members. When they prod drug companies, it is generally for better — not less expensive — treatments.But critics say that by avoiding the debate over cost, they are failing in their patient-advocacy duties. ‘It is a conflict of interest, because the interests of the pharmaceutical industry, from whom they are getting support, may be different from the interests of the patients,’ said Dr. Michael Carome, the director of the Health Research Group at Public Citizen, a consumer advocacy group.” Katie Thomas, “Furor Over Drug Prices Puts Patient Advocacy Groups in Bind,” The New York Times.