Prescription drugs and the sky-high costs associated with them are among the biggest topics being discussed in the presidential campaign and with good reason. Events of 2015 have reaffirmed how important this issue is and dominated the healthcare industry.
Prescription drug prices were all over the news. The FDA approved its 45th drug of the year just before Christmas. While that may not seem like a lot for a whole calendar year, it’s the most approvals in one year since 1996. With more advanced drugs coming on the market, there is more opportunity for price gouging and increased out-of-pocket expenses.
Rising drug costs, however, is nothing new. The Boston Globe reports that a drug for hepatitis C costs $84,000 for 12 weeks of treatment, some cancer drugs average more than $100,000 a year, and the price on commonly used antibiotic increased nearly 70 percent this past year. But it took the work of one pharmaceutical company to really push the drug cost debate into the limelight.
Turing Pharmaceuticals, a privately-held biotech company, purchased a 62 year-old drug, Daraprim, (currently used to treat AIDS) and upped the cost – way up – over 5,400 percent more expensive than it was previously. The price of one pill went from $13.50 to $750, effectively pricing it out of reach for many that need it. The industry and media were up in arms over these actions, especially given CEO Martin Shkreli’s inelegant response to critics on social media. However, this event forced everyone to recognize the problem at hand and address price gouging on prescription drugs.
Recent polls revealed that the public considers drugs costs to be the most pressing health care issue. The debate over high drug costs is only getting started and will no doubt play a big part in the healthcare industry in 2016.
Turing Pharmaceuticals made our list of the Top 10 PR Crises of 2015. Want to see the full list? Check it out here.