A feature on SFGate goes over the problems and issues surrounding the cost of specialty drugs to patients and California.
From the article:
“A practice by health insurers to shift more drugs into high-cost “specialty” categories is pushing those treatments out of the reach of California patients with chronic and life-threatening diseases and caught the attention of the state’s policymakers who are looking for ways to rein in consumer costs.
“In recent years we’ve been paying sky-high prices for specialty drugs without knowing why,” said Assemblyman David Chiu, D-San Francisco, who has authored one of two Assembly bills to address the problem. “The costs for these drugs have been exploding without any transparency about how these drugs are priced. These high prices are not only impacting lives of patients who need them, but the overall costs of delivering health care.”
The most glaring example of the price escalation is a new hepatitis C drug that pharmaceutical companies are offering wholesale at $1,000 a pill. The insurance companies are passing much of that cost onto patients.
This “specialty” category has grown as prescription drugs have evolved from simple compounds to complex biologic therapies that cost drugmakers billions of dollars to produce and require years of clinical trial testing for approval.”