Rising prices for prescription medicines have become an increasingly contentious issue and cast a harsh spotlight on the pharmaceutical industry. As a result, a growing number of state and federal lawmakers are proposing legislation to somehow halt the trend. Drug makers maintain their prices fuel needed innovation and blame insurers for forcing consumers to pay higher costs. But Troy Brennan, the chief medical officer and executive vice president at CVS Health, argues differently. CVS runs the nation’s second-largest pharmacy benefits manager, which negotiates drug prices for companies and government agencies, among others. He maintains CVS is cutting costs to clients. Here is an excerpt of our conversation.
Pharmalot: So you issued a statement saying your clients spent 5 percent more on drugs last year than in 2014, when their drug costs rose 11.8 percent.
Brennan: Yes, we continued to see double-digit inflation across the board, both in specialty medicines and brand-name medicines. Price increases for generics were much smaller. But without our management, the overall increase in spending last year would have been 12.5 percent.