AHIP: PhRMA wants to talk about anything but drug prices

The top health insurance lobby group says drugmakers are trying to distract people from the rising price of drugs.

A blog post headline by America’s Health Insurance Plans says it all: “Wow, this drug is really expens — Look! A squirrel!!”

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Brendan Buck, an AHIP spokesperson and former aide to Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) known for his aggressive style, wrote the post firing back at the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America for trying to deflect the issue of rising drug prices.

“Indeed, whenever the high price of pharmaceuticals is in the news, drugmakers try desperately to change the subject and distract from the issue,” Buck wrote. “Now more than ever, that strategy is on full display as the industry is under increasing fire for the prices of specialty pharmaceuticals – some priced at more than $100,000 for a single course of treatment.”

Drugmakers have come under scrutiny for the price of specialty drugs such as Gilead's hepatitis C drug Sovaldi, which can cost more than $1,000 a pill and needs to be taken once daily for 12 to 24 weeks.

Buck’s comments are just the latest in an ongoing feud between AHIP and PhRMA over the rising cost of such drugs.

His post was in response to a report highlighted by drugmakers and advocacy groups Wednesday that insurers are discriminating against people with diseases such as HIV/AIDS and cancer by making them pay higher copays for their drugs.

AHIP argues the rising cost of premiums and the healthcare system as a whole is a reflection of higher drug prices, which have an upward “ripple effect” on the entire system.

“Drugmakers have no straight-face explanation to justify the increasingly astronomical prices they have been charging for their medications,” said Buck. “That’s why they want to talk about anything – ANYTHING – other than the prices they are charging.”