09 Jun Expensive New Drugs Often Provide Little Substantial Benefit Over Existing Medications
MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Benjamin N. Rome MD
Instructor, Harvard Medical School
Division of Pharmacoepidemiology and Pharmacoeconomics
Brigham and Women’s Hospital
MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study?
What are the main findings?
Response: Manufacturers of brand-name drugs are granted periods, free from direct competition, during which they can set and raise prices as they choose.
We found that the prices for newly marketed brand-name drugs increased by 20% per year from 2008 to 2021. In 2020 and 2021, nearly half of new drugs were launched at a price greater than $150,000 per year, compared with 9% of drugs in 2008-2013. These dramatic trends are only partly explained by changes in the types of drugs coming to market.
MedicalResearch.com: How do you suggest balancing the cost of developing, manufacturing and liability of a new drug versus the cost to society of paying for new medications?
Response: What we really need is to promote innovation that leads to new drugs that are beneficial to patients. Our current system of allowing manufacturers to set their own prices is not effective, and we know from prior research that only 1 in 3 new drugs approved by the FDA offers substantial benefits over existing therapies. Instead, we should realign prices with drugs’ clinical benefits to incentivize development of drugs that will be offer meaningful benefits to patients.
MedicalResearch.com: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this work?
Response: It will continue to be important to understand and document how these rising prices affect patients’ abilities to access and afford needed medications.
Rome BN, Egilman AC, Kesselheim AS. Trends in Prescription Drug Launch Prices, 2008-2021. JAMA. 2022;327(21):2145–2147. doi:10.1001/jama.2022.5542
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