Managed Healthcare Executive: Our pharmacy experts are skeptical of recent drug price freezes

July 30, 2018

Pharmacy experts from UMass Medical School explain to Managed Healthcare Executive why they question Big Pharma's commitment to making vital drugs more easily obtainable for those in need.

Pharmaceutical companies like Pfizer, Novartis and Merck have recently had pressure put on them by the federal government to lower drug prices for consumers. In response, these pharmacy giants have pledged to substantially reduce the prices of their medications. But it's not enough, said Bonnie Greenwood, PharmD, BCPS, clinical program director in Clinical Pharmacy Services; and Kimberly, Lenz, PharmD, clinical pharmacy manager in the Office of Clinical Affairs.

"While they may sound good at face value, there are a lot of caveats to these pledges or the timing of their pledge that limit their impact,” Lenz told Managed Healthcare Executive. She noted that Merck's drug price reduction promises do not extend to some of their blockbuster drugs including Keytruda or Januvia, and the 60 percent price drop for Zepatier is moot because it has already been replaced by newer HCV therapies.

Greenwood remains "skeptical" that price reduction pledges are nothing more than a public relations ploy to offset negative consumer and government feedback. "

I appreciate that Scott Gottlieb has been quite vocal about addressing drug prices and hope continued efforts by the FDA will begin to make some headway on this issue," she said.

As part of her UMass Medical School role, Lenz serves as a pharmacy leader for MassHealth, the Massachusetts Medicaid program. She is part of a team that manages opioid pain medications for MassHealth.

Greenwood is a pharmacy leader who works with a team that has become a sought-after partner for organizations seeking results-oriented solutions to containing pharmacy costs and improving patient outcomes.

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