Good Day BIO: 3 truths about the cost of prescription drugs

October 19, 2021
A bunch of new studies you need to read—with insights on the real cost of pharmaceuticals and patients’ health care costs, as well as the greenhouse gas emissions of food (and how biotech can reduce them). And don’t miss what BIO’s Dr. Michelle said about Gen. Colin…
BIO

A bunch of new studies you need to read—with insights on the real cost of pharmaceuticals and patients’ health care costs, as well as the greenhouse gas emissions of food (and how biotech can reduce them). And don’t miss what BIO’s Dr. Michelle said about Gen. Colin Powell on CNN. (829 words, 4 minutes, 8 seconds)

 

3 truths about the cost of prescription drugs

 
 

The cost of prescription drugs grows more slowly than other health care costs, employers are eager to give pre-deductible coverage to pay for drugs, and the cost of drugs can triple if they are administered in a hospital, three studies find.

Three recent reports give a clearer picture of the cost of prescription drugs—and show that a blunt instrument like price controls is not the best way to help patients pay for medicine. 

Drug prices are relatively stable—and average around 15% of health costs, even as the use of pharmaceuticals has increased, says a study of 11 countries by health care researcher IQVIA

While the U.S. had the highest health care spending, this is due mostly to higher costs for physicians and hospitals. U.S. spending on drugs was a below-average 14%, the report found.

The cost of drugs rises greatly when administered in a hospital instead of at a doctor’s office, according to a survey of 72 physician-administered drugs by the Employee Benefit Research Institute (EBRI). Hospital charges were an average of three times the charges from a physician’s office for administering the same drug. 

Employers are recognizing the barriers to care caused by high cost-sharing, according to the EBRI’s latest study, which found 76% of employers took advantage of recent IRS Guidance allowing HSA plans to provide pre-deductible coverage for 14 medications and services for chronic conditions.

The bottom line: “The U.S. develops more innovative drugs than the rest of the world combined. Addressing patient costs requires more nuance than a bill that will eventually dry up the investment well,” said BIO’s Dr. Michelle McMurry-Heath on a recent episode of the I am BIO Podcast—listen at Apple, Google, or Spotify

Drug price controls will hurt patients—which is why BIO supports other means of controlling patients’ out-of-pocket costs, including a cap on costs for Medicare Part D beneficiaries to cap costs for Medicare Part D beneficiaries.

 

More Health Care News: 

CNN: BIO’s Dr. Michelle on Gen. Colin Powell and vaccines
Former Secretary of State Gen. Colin Powell was battling multiple myeloma and Parkinson’s, and had been scheduled to receive a COVID booster shot, when he died yesterday, BIO President and CEO Dr. Michelle McMurry-Heath said on CNN. Explaining COVID vaccines are effective, she said Gen. Powell’s cancer “had a tremendous impact. Multiple myeloma is a cancer of the immune system. It makes it very difficult to mount a proper immune response.” 

Office of MN Gov. Tim Walz: Governor Walz recognizes Takeda for global trade excellence
Takeda Pharmaceuticals is one of five companies to receive the Governor’s International Trade Award “for showing exceptional progress and success in exports to foreign markets and foreign direct investment.”

 
 
 
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The climate impact of feeding the world—and how biotech can reduce it

 
 

Let’s face it—food production creates a lot of greenhouse gas emissions. So, how do we produce the food the world needs in a sustainable way? Enter biotechnology.

Food production emits 17.3 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide annually, finds a new study published in Nature Food. This is nearly half of the 43.1 billion total tons emitted in 2019

But most of the high-emitting activities mentioned in the report can be countered by biotechnology solutions. For example: 

“Raising livestock generates 21% of greenhouse gas emissions,” with much of it coming from methane belched out by cattle. 

The biotech solution: feed additives that reduce the methane emitted by cattle and enzymes that enhance the digestibility of energy, protein, and phosphorus in livestock. 

“Another 38% comes from farmland management activities,” such as plowing, which pulls up roots and releases carbon and use of nitrogen fertilizer. 

The biotech solution: gene-edited crops, with roots that stay in the ground after harvesting, help to keep carbon in the ground. Gene editing can also produce crops that require less nitrogen, as well as crops that are better at pulling nitrogen from the air. 

“Rice is the largest contributor among plant-based foods” because “many farmers flood their rice fields to kill weeds, creating ideal conditions for certain bacteria that emit methane.”  

The biotech solution: gene editing making more efficient rice that requires less land and can grow on marginal soil. 

Find out more about how biotech is helping reduce the climate impact of agriculture.

 

More Agriculture and Environment News:

BIO: BIO Joins Letter Supporting Elaine Trevino as Chief Ag Negotiator at USTR
On September 15, President Biden nominated Elaine Trevino for Chief Agricultural Negotiator at the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR)—a position that’s essential to protecting the interests of American agriculture and biotechnology. 

Bloomberg: How decarbonizing makeup could lead to fossil-free aviation fuel
“Startup Global Bioenergies has devised technology to produce cosmetics from plants instead of fossil fuels.”

 
 
 
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President Biden’s Tuesday: Meeting with House progressives followed by House and Senate moderates as he seeks to achieve agreement on his domestic agenda, CNN reports

What’s Happening on Capitol Hill: Senate Democrats released the latest drafts of the spending bills yesterday—POLITICO explains what’s in them and what to expect. The Senate Committee on Energy & Natural Resources considers appointments including Brad J. Crabtree as Assistant Secretary of Energy (Fossil Energy and Carbon Management). The Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Intellectual Property will hold a hearing on patent ownership.

 
 
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