Rising Generic Drug Costs: What Are Pennsylvania Physicians Doing to Address the Issue?

Twenty-two percent of the top generic drugs reviewed during a 10-year span between 2005 and 2014 rose faster than inflation, according to a December 2015 report from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General (OIG).

The Pennsylvania Health News Service Project, consisting of 21 Pennsylvania-based medical and specialty associations and societies, addressed the issue of generic drug costs in a Feb. 3 release.

“I can understand that some of the increase comes as a result of research needs, but when it outpaces inflation by large margins, tough questions need to be asked and solutions need to be found,” says Scott Shapiro, MD, president of the Pennsylvania Medical Society (PAMED).

What Are Physicians Doing about Rising Generic Drug Costs?

A resolution regarding generic drug costs that originated from the Pennsylvania Academy of Dermatology and Dermatologic Surgery was brought to PAMED’s Specialty Leadership Cabinet and then approved by PAMED’s Board of Trustees in February 2015.

PAMED, as directed by the resolution, is encouraging the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania to actively address the issue of skyrocketing generic drug prices and has taken the issue to the American Medical Association (AMA).

The AMA House of Delegates, at its June 2015 annual meeting in Chicago, considered a package of five resolutions addressing the issue, including a proposal authored by PAMED. The result was the adoption of four policies:

  1. Working with all relevant stakeholders, including state and federal government, to address the issue

The goal is to ensure that pricing is fair and that patients aren’t forced to make difficult decisions about forgoing treatment due to the cost of generic drugs.

“Increasing drug costs can certainly create challenging financial situations for families, possibly forcing some to skip treatments,” says Joel Fiedler, MD, president of the Pennsylvania Allergy and Asthma Association. “Physicians keep in mind drug costs when they prescribe and seeing sudden and sometimes extreme price jumps give us heartburn since we know some patients may not have the best plans to cover drugs,” he says.

PAMED will continue its advocacy efforts and work with relevant stakeholders to ensure that patients have access to the care and treatment they need.