By Sydney Lupkin
Kaiser Health News
The “most important factor” that drives prescription drug prices higher in the United States than anywhere else in the world is the existence of government-protected “monopoly” rights for drug manufacturers, researchers at Harvard Medical School report today.
The researchers reviewed thousands of studies published from January 2005 through July 2016 in an attempt to simplify and explain what has caused America’s drug price crisis and how to solve it. They found that the problem has deep and complicated roots and published their findings in JAMA, the journal of the American Medical Association. The study was funded by the Laura and John Arnold Foundation with additional support provided by the Engelberg Foundation.
“I continue to be impressed at what a complex and nuanced problem it is and how there are no easy solutions either,” said lead study author Dr. Aaron Kesselheim, a professor who runs the Program on Regulation, Therapeutics and Law at Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Women’s Hospital. “As I was writing, the enormity of the problem continued to shine through.”
Five key findings in the JAMA review:
- Drug manufacturers in the U.S. set their own prices, and that’s not the norm elsewhere in the world.
Countries with national health programs have government entities that either negotiate drug prices or decide not to cover drugs whose prices they deem excessive. No similar negotiating happens in the U.S. [Read more…]