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As national angst over pharmaceutical pricing accelerates, one private nonprofit is hoping to provide some long-term solutions. Last year, the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine assembled a committee of experts from academia and industry to make recommendations on the larger issue of access to affordable medicines. The topics to be reviewed include drug patents; health insurance; government health care programs; changing finances of physician practices; ways to prevent drug shortages, and how to compare the effectiveness of medicines. A report is due in July, so we chatted with Sharyl Nass, who is director of the Board on Health Care Services, which is part of the National Academies and that organized the committee, about what to expect. This is an excerpt from our conversation …

Pharmalot: How did this come about?

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  • Terrific that the National Academies have decided to do this, even without a congressional mandate or agency request. It’s a tremendously important cluster of issues, and discussion is plagued by factions and polarization. Even just a review of the literature on “financial toxicity” and the relation between pricing and access will be valuable, and a map of how access is determined, from R&D to market to coverage, reimbursement and the labyrinth of payment structures and procedures.

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