Price and Costs

On this page, you’ll find the Center’s research on the complex world of pharmaceutical pricing. Our focus will be breaking down current pharmaceutical pricing structures and processes and potential reforms to improve efficiency and innovation; evaluating the impact of regulatory-created inefficiencies such as Pharmacy Benefit Managers (PBMs) and the 340B program; and analyzing how policy proposals such as price controls and drug importation would undermine competition.

The growing problem of health care affordability requires prompt and effective policy solutions. However, just as the wrong medical diagnosis will not cure a patient, and may make the patient even sicker, the wrong policy solution will not address the U.S. health care affordability problem, and may even worsen the problem. Proposals to import pharmaceuticals from overseas are the wrong policy solution. Nevertheless, both Hillary Clinton and President Trump advocated for drug importation on the campaign trail; and, Senator Bernie Sanders...

Imagine if you never had to directly pay for your morning cup of coffee again. Instead, a coffee insurer guaranteed that, for a small co-pay, you could enjoy a cup of coffee every morning. Sounds good? The catch, and there is always a catch, is the caveat “directly pay.” In this bizarre world, you would still be paying for your cup of coffee every morning, but instead of paying your favorite barista, you would now pay your local coffee insurer. But, bureaucracy loves...

President Donald Trump is not the only politician saying he is going to work to get drug prices down. Oregon lawmakers are already patting themselves on the back for tackling drug prices. Rep. Mitch Greenlick (D-Portland) says the measure, Oregon House Bill 2387, could be a model for national reform. "If we can actually get it done," he recently explained, "it will show the country how to get those costs down." Let's hope he's wrong. The reform he's supporting is nothing...

A recent oped in The Hill by MedShadow Foundation founder Suzanne Robotti claims that permitting Americans to import prescription drugs from Canada would save dollars and lives. It would do neither. Prescription drug importation has several notable proponents, like Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.), Amy Kobuchar (D-Minn.), and Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), along with President Donald Trump. Without question, all of them sincerely want to make medicines more affordable. But importation wouldn't save patients much money. Instead, it would hamstring the Food and...

Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar just introduced a federal budget amendment that would legalize the importation of foreign prescription drugs. This particular policy change has long topped Democrats' health care wish list, but shockingly, they might find support across the aisle this year, as President-elect Trump has spoken glowingly of importation. The bipartisan support doesn't make the proposal any better an idea. Legalizing importation would expose Americans to substandard foreign pills and undermine domestic drug innovation. Importation proponents say that American patients could...

The imminent repeal of the Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare) is garnering most of the health care headlines, and rightly so. But, the focus on Obamacare should not overshadow other health care modifications that may be considered during the 115th Congress. Paramount among these proposals is the issue of drug importation. Currently, it is illegal to import drugs into the U.S. from other countries. It is rumored that several Senators will, in short order, attach amendments to the current budget resolution...

California is losing the battle against opioid addiction. Every 45 minutes, someone in the Golden State overdoses. Fifty percent more people overdose today than in 2006. Fortunately, the Food and Drug Administration just approved the anti-addiction treatment Probuphine. It’s an implant placed in a person’s upper arm, where it releases a steady stream of an anti-addiction drug called buprenorphine to help addicts stay sober. Medical breakthroughs like this one could become rarer if a ballot measure under consideration in California is ratified...

Imagine being denied treatment for cancer because Washington bureaucrats decided that a cutting-edge new therapy that could cure you just wasn’t “cost effective.” That’s already happening in Britain under its government-run health care system, the National Health Service. And Medicare officials are poised to bring similar policies here. The NHS’s “Cancer Drugs Fund” restricts physicians’ ability to prescribe half of all oncology medicines. If a medicine doesn’t extend the average cancer patient’s life span by a set length of time, which varies...

Like your iPhone? Federal officials designed it. Couldn't live without the Internet? Thank Uncle Sam — he invented it. Sick and need new medicine? Don't worry — the government is here to help. This fantastical line of thinking — that because the government funded basic, early-stage research, it can claim credit for a final product decades later — underpins the latest calls for more federal control of drug prices. Such calls are grossly ill-informed and demonstrate a deep misunderstanding of the drug...