BIG PHARMA POLITICS: Consumers pressure politicians to do something about rising drug prices. Read More
Patients with multiple sclerosis, also known as MS, must give themselves uncomfortable injections once or twice a day as treatment. If that wasn’t bad enough, they also must cope with the drug’s skyrocketing cost which has increased more than four times since 2008.
As a result, Medicare spending for Medicare Part D beneficiaries has soared more than 10-fold during the same period.
A new study from the University of Pittsburgh found that MS disease-modifying therapy prices rose from a mean of $18,660 to $75,847 from 2006 to 2016. At the same time Medicare spending on these drugs went from $7,794 to $79,411 per 1,000 Medicare beneficiaries.
“This study is the first to evaluate the impact of rising prices of multiple sclerosis drugs on Medicare Part D drug spending and patients’ out-of-pocket spending,” said author Alvaro San-Juan-Rodriguez, research fellow at the University of Pittsburgh, to MedPage Today. San-Juan-Rodriquez and his colleagues wanted to demonstrate to taxpayers and policymakers that rising prices of MS drugs have resulted in large increases in Medicare spending and patient out-of-pocket costs.
An accompanying editorial from Daniel Hartung and Dr. Dennis Bourdette, from the Oregon Health & Science University in Portland attempts to examine why costs have increased.
The pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries argue that rising prices reflect the cost of research and development for innovative MS treatments. However, Hartung and Bourdette note that “these claims do not explain the continuous rise in the three drugs originally approved for MS, interferon beta-1b (Betaseron), interferon beta-1a (Avonex), and glatiramer acetate (Copaxone).” They contend “these drugs have long since recouped any cost of drug development, yet their prices have continued to rise.”
San-Juan Rodriguez and his colleagues believe neurologists should not allow the increases in price for important MS drugs hurt the health care system or patients.
Are you or someone you love struggling to pay for MS medication? Share your story with Voices for Affordable Health.