Nasty Morons As Master Analysts of Drug Pricing

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  • 12/23/2015
Did you know that ten of the 80 costliest drugs Medicare pays for had price increases of between 77 and 543 percent?  And did you know that all of them are generic drugs?   Or that the cost per unit of specialty drugs (cancer, MS, psoriasis, etc. ) increased an average of 6-7 percent? 

I bet you didn’t because not one media outlet covering the release of CMS drug spending data mentioned it:  Instead, most of the articles started off like… oh, wait why don’t I just share with  you the highest form of journalistic misdirection by the WSJ's Peter Loftus.

“Hefty price increases for a number of prescription drugs contributed to higher spending by the U.S. Medicare program in 2014, according to new government data released Monday. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services identified at least five drugs that were covered under Medicare’s Part D drug benefit and had increases of 100% or more in cost per unit from 2013 to 2014. At the top of the list was Vimovo, a pain reliever whose cost-per-unit rose more than 500% after Horizon Pharma PLC purchased rights to the drug from AstraZeneca.”

Still waiting for a detailed breakdown of who did what?  Don’t look under the Christmas tree because Santa isn’t delivering it this year.  Neither is the WSJ or Bloomberg (who produced what can only be called a deceitful piece of reporting on the relative price of drugs in Europe and the US).

Instead after providing a description of the new CMS dashboard, Loftus concludes: “The new data emerge amid a rising debate over drug pricing. Cancer doctors have complained that the high costs of new drugs don’t seem to be tied to the benefits provided by the drugs. Presidential candidates Bernie Sanders, Hillary Clinton and Marco Rubio have criticized drug prices on the campaign trail. A U.S. Senate committee recently held a hearing about companies that have dramatically raised prices after acquiring older drugs.”

Just enough ‘information’ to reinforce the narrative that drug prices are wildly out of control because they don’t reflect value if they are new or R&D costs if they are old.   Either way, the real goal of the piece is to imply that drug profits are too high, a view stoked by previous articles by Loftus and others.  Any word about how PBMs and other third parties pocket $90 billion in drug rebates never shared by patients?  Come on. 

The late Christopher Hitchens observed that he had “become too accustomed to the pseudo-Left new style, whereby if your opponent thought he had identified your lowest possible motive, he was quite certain that he had isolated the only real one. This vulgar method, which is now the norm and the standard in much non-Left journalism as well, is designed to have the effect of making any noisy moron into a master analyst.” 

Noisy morons as master analysts.  Now THAT’s accurate reporting.


Center for Medicine in the Public Interest is a nonprofit, non-partisan organization promoting innovative solutions that advance medical progress, reduce health disparities, extend life and make health care more affordable, preventive and patient-centered. CMPI also provides the public, policymakers and the media a reliable source of independent scientific analysis on issues ranging from personalized medicine, food and drug safety, health care reform and comparative effectiveness.

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