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PhRMA: Health care cost concerns bigger than prescription drugs


Representatives of the pharmaceutical industry say the conversation about health care costs is larger than just the cost of prescription drugs.

PhRMA was responding to a study before a North Dakota Legislative interim committee, and to AARP North Dakota’s comments about getting to the root cause of drug costs.

PhRMA Vice President for Public Affairs Priscilla VanderVeer said various studies have shown prescription drug costs have been rising at a slower rate than other health care costs, such as hospitalizations.

"When we talk to patients, the number one thing they're concerned about is what they have to pay out of pocket for their health care," VanderVeer said in an interview with Prairie Public. "Whether that's their medicines, whether that's their hospital cots, or their premiums, their deductibles, their co-pays. Frankly, that's where a lot of our solutions are focused is getting to the root of what people are having to pay out of pocket."

VanderVeer said over 50 cents of every dollar charged for medicine goes to entities that don’t make the medicine.

"It goes to insurance companies, pharmacy benefit managers, hospitals, the government — it goes to all these other people in the supply chain," VanderVeer said. "Despite that, patients are being asked to pay either the full list price of their medicine, or to pay their cost-sharing based off the full list price of the medicine."

VanderVeer said this isn’t happening in terms of other medical costs.

"You hurt your ankle, you get an X-ray, and you get the bill later, which says your X-ray cost $100," VanderVeer said. "Then you see an amount, where it says your insurer negotiated that cost down to $50. So your cost-sharing is based on $50 and not the $100."

VanderVeer said that isn't happening at the pharmacy counter.

VanderVeer said PhRMA is hoping to work with the interim Legislative committee – and AARP – on this issue.

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