Tips on Covering Drug Prices

Posted March 5, 2019 by Bill Wheelhouse

Whether it is a U.S. Senator announcing a proposal to lower the cost of drugs or an advocacy group arguing for state regulations on prices, you will likely encounter this topic. It is one that will interest your viewers or listeners.    You will be doing them a service if you know what you are talking about.   Our tip of the week provides a tip from a journalist who has covered health care along with links to some other sources that will assist you with good background and facts.

Journalist’s Resource offered seven tips from Politico’s Joanne Kenen.

One of those is when reporting on drug costs, “Don’t confuse actual drug costs with out-of-pocket drug costs

Policymakers and consumers alike are concerned with the cost of prescription drugs. But Kenen advised that not all cost-cutting policies will actually bring down overall drug costs. A policy that reduces out-of-pocket costs – what you pay at the drug store – may benefit patients with high cost diseases but it does not necessarily change the amount the pharmaceutical manufacturer receives. “That cost ends up being distributed elsewhere,” Kenen said. “It might go into our insurance premiums, and we’re all paying an extra dollar or two dollars or whatever. But it’s not actually bringing down the cost of the drug.”

“Be clear, point out, be explicit,” Kenen advised. “Lowering what the patient’s paying right now, it is not addressing the trajectory of drug price spending in America. Just point out — it’s not a value judgment.”

Journalist’s Resource provided 7 tips on covering health care.    Journalist’s Resource also provides links to a number of other health care related groups to utilize in your reporting.

In addition, The Kaiser Family Foundation offers a wealth of resources on prescription drug prices.

Also be sure to check out the Association of Health Care Journalists.   This group requires membership for access to many of their materials.

If you know of other good sources, let me know