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November 22/29, 2016

Pharmaceuticals and Public Health

Author Affiliations
  • 1Department of Pediatrics, University of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois
  • 2Department of Public Health Sciences, University of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois
  • 3Louisiana Department of Health, Baton Rouge
  • 4Department of Health Policy and Management, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Baltimore, Maryland
JAMA. 2016;316(20):2083-2084. doi:10.1001/jama.2016.15397

The national debate over increasing costs and spending for pharmaceuticals has reached a fever pitch. Special concern has focused on new “specialty” drugs, for which per-patient treatment costs often exceed $1000 per month or more than $10 000 for a course of a therapy. The most commonly discussed solutions include approaches to pricing these drugs based on their value to individual patients.1 However, for pharmaceuticals vital to public health, such as immunizations and drugs to treat communicable diseases, policy makers should broaden their perspective to consider the population as a whole.