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March 3, 2020

Affording Medicines for Today’s Patients and Sustaining Innovation for Tomorrow

Author Affiliations
  • 1Merck & Co Inc, Kenilworth, New Jersey
JAMA. 2020;323(9):831-833. doi:10.1001/jama.2020.0167

This is a time of unprecedented medical progress. Breakthrough science is transforming patient outcomes and enabling clinicians to treat—and sometimes cure—diseases that previously posed insurmountable challenges to people’s health. However, many individuals in the United States are increasingly concerned about the out-of-pocket expenses they face in gaining access to the care they need. Escalating insurance premiums, co-insurance expenses, and co-payments can be financially devastating for individuals and families. Many patients with private insurance are shocked to learn that, even when they received care at a network facility, large balance bills—“surprise” medical bills for noncovered clinicians, ambulances, and other services—can amount to thousands of dollars.1 But perhaps nothing has galvanized the current groundswell of populist outrage more than the money patients must pay for their prescription drugs in retail pharmacies. As a result, many patients skip doses because they simply cannot afford to pay for their medications or do not fill their prescriptions.2,3 This should not be.

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