Michigan Association of Health Plans

KHN On NPR: The Uniquely American Problem Of High Prescription Drug Costs

Originally published by Kaiser Health News 


Kaiser Health News Editor-in-Chief Elisabeth Rosenthal discussed drug costs with Scott Simon, the host of NPR’s Weekend Edition on Saturday, Feb. 10. This is a transcript of that conversation.

SCOTT SIMON, NPR: The new budget passed by Congress last week includes changes for Medicare patients. It will require drug companies to give deeper discounts to Medicare on expensive prescriptions. That should reduce the cost of drugs for patients. The skyrocketing cost of prescription drugs is something followed closely by Elisabeth Rosenthal, a veteran healthcare reporter and editor-in-chief of Kaiser Health News, who joins us from her offices. Thanks so much for being with us.

ELISABETH ROSENTHAL: Thanks for having me.

SIMON: Will this and other features you see in the budget help reduce the cost of prescription drugs?

ROSENTHAL: Well, to a small number of people, it will. I mean, this really targets the Medicare-age population and Medicare plans. And for people who have very high drug costs within Medicare, it will definitely help them. But it, of course, doesn’t solve the much larger problem of the very high prescription drug prices that everyone pays in this country. And P.S., what we’re talking about for Medicare patients, even, are discounts on these very high initial prices. So, you know, a discount of a really high price still isn’t a very good deal.

SIMON: Why do we have a problem with this in the United States?

ROSENTHAL: Well, we’re the only country that doesn’t in some way directly negotiate prescription drug prices with manufacturers – the only developed country, that is. I mean, most other countries in some form either evaluate the cost-benefit ratio of a new drug and decide what they’re willing to pay or, you know, very aggressively negotiate with drug manufacturers, particularly for older drugs, as they age.

SIMON: Insulin in one form or another has been saving lives for – what? – 80 years.


SIMON: Why has the price gone up in recent years?

Listen to the interview and read the full transcript at: https://khn.org/news/khn-on-npr-the-uniquely-american-problem-of-high-prescription-drug-costs/