Discussions about the cost and affordability of medicines are important. No patient should have to worry about whether they can afford the health care they need (“Increasing drug prices hurt patients, families,” March 31 Point of View).
However, the notion that spending on medicines is the primary driver of health care cost growth is false and ignores cost savings that medicines provide to the health care system overall.
Medicines lead to fewer physician visits, hospitalizations, surgeries and other preventable procedures, all of which translate to lower health care costs.
Medicines account for a consistently small share of total health spending. Nationwide, spending on prescription medicines accounts for approximately 14 percent of all health care spending. In North Carolina, retail prescription medicines accounted for just 5.4 percent of overall Medicaid spending in 2014.
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What patients and families need is predictable and accessible information about the out-of-pocket costs they will face. Patients also need enforceable, common-sense rules that prevent discrimination and remove barriers to receiving care. These policies will improve coverage and access and will help make medicines more affordable to the patients who desperately need them.
Senior Vice President, Communications, Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America