ISPOR Panel Discusses Recommendations and Rationale of “Making Medicines Affordable: A National Imperative”

Session Explores Strategies to Tackle Rising Costs of Prescription Drugs in the United States Without Discouraging Development

Baltimore, MD, USA—May 22, 2018—ISPOR, the professional society for health economics and outcomes research, held a session, “‘Making Medicines Affordable: A National Imperative’—Reflections on the National Academies Report” [IP11], this afternoon at ISPOR 2018 in Baltimore, MD, USA.

Over the past several decades, the biopharmaceutical industry has successfully developed a number of new medications for previously untreatable conditions that can now be managed effectively or even cured. However, this success has come at a cost. Spending on prescription drugs in the United States has been rising dramatically, making drug costs an increasingly significant part of the total healthcare spend and causing many people to have difficulty paying for the drugs they or their family members need.

This session was moderated by Guru Madhavan, PhD, MBA, National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine, Washington, DC, USA. Panelists included: Norman Augustine, MS, formerly of Lockheed Martin Corporation, Bethesda, MD, USA; Charles E. Phelps, PhD, MBA, University of Rochester, Rochester, NY, USA; Stacie B. Dusetzina, PhD, Vanderbilt University Medical Center, Nashville, TN, USA; and Robert W. Dubois, MD, PhD, National Pharmaceutical Council, Washington, DC, USA.

The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine conducted a study to recommend policy actions that address drug price trends, improve patient access to affordable and effective treatments, and encourage innovations that address significant needs in healthcare. The resulting report, “Making Medicines Affordable: A National Imperative,” offers a number of strategies to help tackle the rising costs of prescription drugs without discouraging development of new, more effective drugs for the future. During this session, the panelists discussed the recommendations and rationale of this important report.

Highlighting the “fundamental tension between ensuring the availability of new drugs in the future and ensuring the affordability of those drugs that exist today,” the conclusions of the report note that, “There is little value in new drugs that patients cannot afford—and there is no value in drugs that do not exist.” Recommendations from the report include:

  • Accelerate the market entry and the use of safe and effective generics as well as biosimilars, and foster competition to ensure the continued affordability and availability of these products.
  • Consolidate and apply governmental purchasing power, strengthen formulary design, and improve drug valuation methods.
  • Assure greater transparency of financial flows and profit margins in the biopharmaceutical supply chain.
  • Promote the adoption of industry codes of conduct, and discourage direct-to-consumer advertising of prescription drugs as well as direct financial incentives for patients.
  • Modify insurance benefits designs to mitigate prescription drug cost burdens for patients.
  • Eliminate misapplication of funds and inefficiencies in federal discount programs that are intended to aid vulnerable populations.
  • Ensure that financial incentives for the prevention and treatment of rare diseases are not extended to widely sold drugs.
  • Increase available information and implement reimbursement incentives to more closely align prescribing practices of clinicians with treatment value.

Additional information on the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine report, “Making Medicines Affordable: A National Imperative,” can be found here. Additional information on ISPOR 2018 can be found here. Released presentations from the conference can be found here. Interested parties can follow news and developments from the conference on social media using the hashtag #ISPORBaltimore.


ISPOR, the professional society for health economics and outcomes research (HEOR), is an international, multistakeholder, nonprofit dedicated to advancing HEOR excellence to improve decision making for health globally. The Society is the leading source for scientific conferences, peer-reviewed and MEDLINE®-indexed publications, good practices guidance, education, collaboration, and tools/resources in the field.
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