Thursday, February 18, 2016

Will a stroke patient need a mortgage next?

Photo from via Flickr
We've seen lots of stories lately about drug prices. And there are lots of high-price drugs that aren't in the news a lot. Just Google "Jublia price" and you'll get stories like this one.

Now, another drug is making news - and this one is close to home for past and future stroke survivors. It seems that the long-approved clot-buster is a price-buster too:
For those keeping score, here is yet another example of drug price escalation: the cost of alteplase, aka tPA, the clot-busting agent used to treat stroke, increased by 111% from 2005 to 2014 -- but Medicare payment for the drug has increased by 8% during the same period.
A standard alteplase vial contains 100 mg, and in 2014 the cost for that vial was $6,400, said Dawn Kleindorfer, MD, of the University of Cincinnati. Kleindorfer reported the results of her cost-analysis here at the International Stroke Conference. ...
Brian Silver, MD, of Rhode Island Hospital in Providence and a spokesperson for the American Stroke Association, told MedPage Today that the pressure on hospitals is likely to increase. He noted that "this year the cost of alteplase is not $6,400 but $8,300. If the hospital's reimbursement is only around $15,000, simple math tells us that after paying for the drug, it only leaves $6,700 for the rest of the admission."
If the price continues to increase, Silver said, "at what point does it become impossible to deliver the care?"
And that final phrase from this excerpt is the critical question. If every pizza would cost $1,000, how many pizzas would be delivered?

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