Peter Bach’s Drug Abacus slamming the brakes on innovation – Daily Rise: Wednesday, June 29

Bach’s Brakes

Peter Bach is slamming the brakes on innovation, our policy director Jonathan Wilcox writes in a piece published at The Observer.

Wilcox explains that, as director of Memorial Sloan Kettering’s Center for Health Policy and Outcomes, Bach is working to put his own price tag on life-saving treatments with his “Drug Abacus.”

“The logical conclusion of Bach’s work would be a slowdown – if not a full stop – to continued innovation and progress in medicine,” Wilcox says. “It won’t matter what your doctors say or if there’s a drug that could help you — if the formula says it’s too expensive, you’re done. Think for a moment how Stephen Hawking or Magic Johnson would fare in a system that judged their value in this way.”

You’d think that such radical views would be disregarded. Not so. Bach’s only gaining in popularity — even influencing the health care policy of a presidential contender.

“Bach’s work is growing in popularity, especially in liberal circles where the demand for price controls is now an article of faith,” Wilcox points out. “Perhaps this is why he is a purported frontrunner for a prime spot in a possible Hillary Clinton administration, where he could turn his ideas into permanent policies.”


Check out Jonathan’s entire piece at The Observer’s website.

ICER Watch: Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer

In our latest installment of ICER Watch, our co-founder & executive director Terry Wilcox decimates the Institute for Clinical and Economic Review’s Draft Scoping Document for Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer.

“One of the most pressing issues in health care today is improving access to, and reimbursement for, precision and personalized medicines that enhance and extend people’s lives,” Terry explains. “That is why we are in a unique position to closely observe and make direct comments to all of the frameworks ICER proposes. In our review of the Draft Scoping Document for Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer, we have many concerns about both the chosen focus and ICER methodology in selecting the criteria for the forthcoming Draft Report.”

Among the concerns with the latest draft scoping document: the limited time frame for comment, narrow scope of the draft and lack of meaningful input from the patient advocacy community. As a result of the report’s narrow scope, Terry suggests that the appropriate title should be a “Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer Report for EGFR+ Tumors and those with wild type EGFR, or no tumor target.”

“Every patient advocate in the lung cancer community wants to help move towards more efficient, patient-focused care aimed at eliminating waste and fraud within each sector of the health care ecosystem,” Wilcox writes, speaking on behalf of patients. “We hope that ICER will choose to genuinely and comprehensively reach out to the advocacy community for a robust exchange in search of ways to collaborate.”

Quote of the Day: Bonnie Addario

“Genomics is the key to personalizing treatments for cancer patients. We simply must open doors to innovation and not close them. I believe what ICER is doing at this time is preparing to close the doors.”

–Bonnie Addario, head of Bonnie J. Addario Lung Cancer Foundation, speaking to GenomeWeb

Most of What You Read is Wrong

Most of what you read about “high drug prices” is wrong.

That’s according to our friend and health economist Jennifer Hinkel. In a new piece published at Medium, she lays out the five things that you may not know when it comes to the economics of cancer.

“As a health economist and cancer survivor, I’m here to tell you that most of what you read about cancer drug cost tells only a small part of the story,” says Hinkel, a partner at McGivney Global Advisors and cancer survivor. “Insurance companies and other stakeholders in health care have a vested interest in hammering drug prices — because this helps them put pressure on manufacturers to extract discounts, most of which are never passed along to patients, and also helps justify high co-payments and direct patient anger to “big pharma” instead of “big health insurance.”

So, what are the 5 things you might not know?

  1. Spending on cancer drugs is likely to reduce overall health care spending and has a macroeconomic benefit as an investment in the health of society.
  2. Insurance companies, not drug companies, determine what patients pay for drugs.
  3. Discounts don’t apply only to insurers. Nearly half the hospitals in the US, and clinics that are part of these systems, get drugs at a discount of 20% to 50%. These savings are kept by the hospital system, and do not lower the patient’s cost.
  4. What your insurer charges as a drug co-pay often has nothing to do with the drug’s clinical efficacy, but instead depends on discounts negotiated between the insurance company and the drug’s manufacturer.
  5. Your doctor may be incentivized to prescribe a less-than-ideal medication because of a deal made between the hospital she works for and an insurance company, or because of discounts negotiated between insurers and pharma companies.

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