$1,350 a pill? New medications spark fears that health care costs could soar

Author:
Updated:
Original:

The new top-selling treatment for hepatitis C costs $1,350 per pill, The Associated Press reports.

And a Minnesota expert tells the news service it's exhibit A in his argument that prescription drug costs are spinning out of control.

Stephen Schondelmeyer is a professor of pharmaceutical economics at the U of M's College of Pharmacy. On a day when the Veterans Affairs Department said hepatitis C drugs have put a hole in its budget, Schondelmeyer reiterated to the AP his contention that the country needs to do more to control costs.

This spring Sen. Amy Klobuchar held a panel discussion on prescription drug costs. RxRights reports Schondelmeyer said there are some miracle drugs out there, but added:

“They have to be affordable to be useful to a person. You don’t get better by staring at the drug on the shelf at the pharmacy. You have to be able to get it, use it properly and improve your health.”

Klobuchar has introduced a bill aimed at controlling drug costs, in part by allowing patients to buy their medications in Canada.

Cheaper in the long run?

The new hepatitis C drug called Harvoni brings effective cures with minimal side effects to patients with a disease that kills more Americans annually than AIDS does, the AP notes.

According to Everyday Health, the single pill taken daily for 12 weeks differs from previous treatments that involved combinations of drugs taken for up to a year that often did not cure a patient.

When hepatitis C is not cured, it can destroy a patient's liver and the AP says the cost of a transplant typically runs $577,000.

But Everyday Health says the high cost of Harvoni and similar new hepatitis C drugs means some insurance companies will cover them only for the very sickest of patients.

Healthwire says the new competition among pharmaceutical companies may be to develop a hepatitis C cure at a more affordable price.

Industry watchers like the U of M's Schondelmeyer caution, though, that hepatitis C is not the only condition with high-priced treatments being developed.

Next Up

coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2

Minnesota confirms America's 1st case of Brazil P.1 COVID strain

The strain was found in a Twin Cities metro resident who recently traveled to Brazil.

classroom

Gov. Walz announces education plan aimed at eliminating disparities

The plan covers seven categories, including closing the racial education gap and improving opportunities in rural Minnesota

Tax forms

Charges: Otsego cleaning business underreported sales

An Otsego woman is accused of owing more than $20,500 in sales tax, penalties and interest.

Screen Shot 2020-04-17 at 2.58.26 PM

Walz gives vaccine providers 3-day, 7-day deadlines to use doses

Those that don't use their allocation will be given less in the future.

purse

Border officers seize more than $550K in counterfeit designer goods

The shipments of fake goods were seized on Jan. 22.

Landfill plastic bags

4 Twin Cities landfills seek to expand capacity

This comes as the area's waste-to-energy facilities are operating at capacity.

Marcus Carr

3 of 10 finalists for NCAA's top point guard award have MN ties

Not a bad way to represent the State of... Basketball?

Justice, court

Minnesota grants unconditional pardon to grandmother facing deportation

Gov. Tim Walz says it's the first full pardon granted by the state in 35 years.

covid-19, vaccine

Minnesota changes vaccine appointment process, here's what to know

Walz also announced plans for a mass vaccination event at Xcel Energy Center.

covid-19, coronavirus

Here is Minnesota's COVID-19 update for Monday, Jan. 25

The latest figures from MDH have been released.

covid-19, vaccine

Minnesota health leaders say state's vaccine progress better than figures suggest

Minnesota is lagging behind national vaccination rates, but MDH leaders say this is because it's holding 2nd doses in reserve.

Related