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April 23/30, 2019

Lowering Cost and Increasing Access to Drugs Without Jeopardizing Innovation

Author Affiliations
  • 1Duke Forge, Duke University School of Medicine, Durham, North Carolina
  • 2Verily Life Sciences (Alphabet), South San Francisco, California
  • 3Board Chair, United States of Care
JAMA. 2019;321(16):1571-1573. doi:10.1001/jama.2019.3846

US drug costs have reached unacceptable and unsustainable levels. Evidence shows that “financial toxicity” arising from drug costs and other medical expenses is reducing financial security for many families1 and prompting difficult choices, as patients defer or forgo therapies they cannot afford.2 In stark contrast, comparable countries negotiate drug prices and use drugs more effectively. Recent data suggest that other high-income countries have an average life expectancy approximately 3 to 5 years longer than that of the United States, which ranks last among high-income countries and is losing ground compared with peer nations.3 Although drug prices account for only part of these trends, they nevertheless add to disparities that dominate the trajectories of US health outcomes.