Physicians vent anger at unclear drug pricing
One recent example of a sharp, seemingly unjustified increase is the 400 percent spike in the price of EpiPens in 2016, which even drew criticism from the U.S. Congress.
Physicians spoke out during a session on drug pricing at the 2017 AMA State Legislative Strategy Conference in Florida, which drew more than 200 doctors and medical society staff.
AMA President Andrew Gurman, a Pennsylvania hand surgeon, cited the incongruity in pricing of one common generic drug, metformin. He said a local pharmacy pays less than 7 cents per 500 mg tablet, while he pays $8 per 1,000 mg tablet.
“That’s what’s going on in the real world,” Gurman said. “Your doctor writes that you need 1,000 mg of metformin, but she doesn’t know that that’s 100 times more expensive than writing two times 500 mg. We’ve got to fix this, and docs can’t be the sole answer. They can’t be responsible for knowing all of the prices for all of the drugs in all of their possible combinations.”
The AMA Wire article concluded that out-of-pocket costs went up 20 percent from 2013 to 2015.
Dr. Barbara McAneny, a medical oncologist and AMA trustee from New Mexico, said one of the biggest issues is the lack of explanation in how group purchasing organizations and pharmaceutical companies proceed. She said there are many unknowns that “add no value, just a bunch of people in the middle that are taking money out of the health care system to put in their own pockets.”
The AMA House of Delegates adopted new guiding principles that support value-based drug pricing during November’s 2016 AMA Interim Meeting.