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What Soaring Drug Prices Mean For Patients

WE'VE ALL HEARD about the eye-popping price tags: Cancer drugs that cost $14,000 a month. New hepatitis C drugs pegged at $84,000 for a course of treatment. Such prices are one reason why specialty drug spending in the U.S. is projected to grow from $87 billion in 2012 to $400 billion by 2020. Consumers aren’t happy about it. More than three-quarters of Americans support limits on how much drug companies can charge for high-cost drugs, according to a new Kaiser Family Foundation poll. Doctors also have become increasingly outspoken about the skyrocketing prices of drugs that treat diseases such as cancer, hepatitis C and cystic fibrosis. Meanwhile, a handful of states have introduced legislation in a bid to force drug makers to justify their prices. This webinar will offer insights into what’s driving the price increases, explain how these costs impact patients and consumers, and suggest ways in which journalists can cover this evolving story.

WHEN: Sept. 3, 2015, from 10 to 11 a.m. PT (1 to 2 p.m. ET)

Our distinguished panel will include:

Dr. Peter B. Bach

, director of Memorial Sloan Kettering’s Center for Health Policy and Outcomes, is a physician, epidemiologist, researcher, and respected health care policy expert whose work focuses on the cost and value of anticancer drugs. Dr. Bach is leading efforts to increase understanding of the U.S. drug development process and develop new models for drug pricing that include value to patients as a critical component. As the cost of specialty drugs continues to grow, he argues, prices are no longer rational, and a better pricing system could increase patient access to life-saving medications at lower costs while spurring innovation.

Dr. Peter B. Bach

leads Kaiser Family Foundation’s public opinion survey program, including the monthly Kaiser Health Tracking Poll, the Foundation’s work on Americans’ attitudes toward global health policy, and the ongoing survey partnerships with media organizations including The Washington Post, The New York Times, and NPR. Dr. Brodie’s efforts focus on understanding public opinion and knowledge on health care policy issues and the role of opinion in health policy debates. Dr. Brodie is the President of the American Association of Public Opinion Research.

Kristin Espeland Gourlay

is the health care reporter for Rhode Island Public Radio. Her 2014 radio series “” looked at the rise of hepatitis C and the emergence of extremely effective — and prohibitively expensive — new drugs to treat it. The series led to a packed forum and a joint hearing in the state legislature. After her series aired, several hepatitis drugs were added to the state Medicaid formulary. Gourlay has won multiple national, regional, and local awards for her reporting, and her work has aired on NPR and stations throughout the country.

Webinars are free and made possible by the 

Dr. Mollyann Brodie's webinar slides:


Dr. Peter B. Bach's webinar slides:


Kristin Gourlay's webinar slides:

Recommended reading


“,” by Peter S. Bach, The New York Times

“ by Andrew Pollack, The New York Times

“,” by Jonathan D. Rockoff, WSJ 

“,” by Drew Altman, WSJ

“,” by Joseph Walker, WSJ

“,” Anne Thompson, NBC News

“,” by Michael Ollove, Stateline

"," by Kristin Gourlay, Center for Health Journalism Digital 

"," by Kristin Gourlay, Rhode Island Public Radio

"," by Robert Pear, The New York Times

"" by Peter Loftus, WSJ

"," by Andrew Pollack, NYT

Polls & Reports

“,” Kaiser Family Foundation

“,” by Rabah Kamal, Kaiser Family Foundation

“,” Kaiser Family Foundation

“,” by Jonathan D. Alpern, William M. Stauffer, and Aaron S. Kesselheim, The New England Journal of Medicine

“,” Ayalew Tefferi et al., Mayo Clinic Proceedings

          The Health Matters Webinar series is supported by the National Institute for Health Care Management Foundation. The Center for Health Journalism is solely responsible for the selection of webinar topics and speakers.



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