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BOSTON — At a swanky hotel in the Theatre District, about a dozen health policy experts and drug development academics gathered Wednesday to talk drug pricing. Speakers on the Manhattan Institute-curated panel see a future where the amount of money people pay for pharmaceuticals has something to do with how much “value” they provide — but seemed to have more questions than answers about what that actually means.

“How do you assess value?” asked Kenneth Kaitin, who directs the Tufts Center for the Study of Drug Development. “[Consider] a cancer drug that only extends life by three months but allows you to go home, versus one that extends it a year but you end up staying in the hospital for the year, versus one that delays the progression of the disease but your overall outcome is not any different. There’s so much gray area in this assessment that it alway makes me nervous about discussions that [go like]: ‘If we just are able to measure the value we’ll be able to come up with reasonable pricing.’”


Former U.S. senator Dr. Tom Coburn, who shared his thoughts with the small audience before the discussion started and sat as a side-member to the panel, wondered if there was a way to pay for high-cost drugs that confer lifelong benefits a little bit at a time as opposed to all at once.

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  • It is the single most reason why the cost of medical care is exorbitant, and why the need for insurance is mandatory. They also work hand in hand with the food industry which alters the food supply to the point that illness and disease create the massive need for treatment. We the people have developed an unreasonable dependence on technology that has contributed to our poverty and weakness.

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