Pharmaceutical drug industry defends itself against critics

Written by Ben Allen and Radio Pennsylvania | Jun 19, 2015 4:30 AM

(Harrisburg) -- The pharmaceutical industry is defending itself against claims about high prices.

At a recent hearing in Harrisburg, Kendra Martello with the industry's trade group PhRMA says it's not how it appears.

"The pricing in foreign markets is kept artificially low. The way it works is that we actually pay more upfront here, but pay less over time," says Martello.

In general, prescription drug prices fall in the United States, but only after patent protection expires and generic manufacturers can start producing the drug as well.

Martello argues nearly 90 percent of drugs don't make it through required clinical tests, costing the industry hundreds of millions of dollars.

She says prescription drug spending is still about the same share of health care spending as it was in 1960 - between 10 and 12 percent.

Martello also points to insurance companies: "A vast majority, or at least a significant portion of plans are often putting drugs for certain conditions on the highest cost sharing tier."

But insurance companies have said they can't absorb the cost of drugs like Sovaldi, which treats Hepatitis C and can run $1,000 per treatment.

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