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Nation's Emergency Physicians ID Insurance Industry as Co-Culprits in High Drug Prices

September 2, 2016

WASHINGTON,  In response to a recent rash of news stories reporting spikes in price for both generic and name-brand pharmaceutical drugs, the president of the American College of Emergency Physicians Jay Kaplan, MD, FACEP released a statement:

"Consumers are rightly angered by the sudden rise in prices for certain drugs, but what they may not be aware of is the role that the insurance industry has played in transferring health care costs across the board to patients and the physicians who treat them.  Prescription drug prices have been exorbitant for a long time, but patients were shielded from it before high-deductible health insurance plans began to proliferate.

"Those plans, which now account for nearly one-quarter of employer-sponsored health insurance, use words like 'out-of-network,' 'deductible,' 'co-insurance' and 'co-pay' to hide an ugly reality: more money coming out of your pocket to pay for your health care.   While the price hike for the anti-anaphylaxis drug EpiPen has garnered most of the headlines, other drugs such as insulin, tetracycline and the prostate cancer drug, Xtandi, have also shot up in price, hurting patients. Vancomycin, an antibiotic that is critical in the emergency department for the potentially deadly infection clostridium difficile, now costs $500.00 per course of treatment in some areas. This is a generic medication that has been on the market for 50 years!

"The firestorm over drug prices is just another chapter in the ongoing story of 'surprise bills' which are more accurately characterized as 'surprise gaps in coverage.'  Emergency physicians continue to fight for fair coverage for medical care, whether it is provided in the emergency department or by a bottle of pills. Physicians and patients must join together to fight back against the 'heads I win, tails you lose' strategy employed by health insurers."

ACEP is the national medical specialty society representing emergency medicine. ACEP is committed to advancing emergency care through continuing education, research and public education. Headquartered in Dallas, Texas, ACEP has 53 chapters representing each state, as well as Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia. A Government Services Chapter represents emergency physicians employed by military branches and other government agencies. 


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