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The Cancerous Design of the U.S. Drug Pricing System

OSAE Member Antonio Ciaccia speaks out on this challenging landscape

People ask us what 46brooklyn stands for.  The company is named after Eric’s mom who was born in Brooklyn, NY, in 1946 and passed away in January 2018 after an 18-month battle with pancreatic cancer.  Her fight included the kitchen-sink of chemotherapy, which was managed carefully by Eric’s sister, an oncologist and palliative care doctor at the Mayo Clinic. Both of Antonio’s beloved grandmothers were taken by battles with cancer as well.

Despite all the fantastic care rendered to our family members and others battling cancer, there is the unfortunate reality of crippling costs. Given our professional experiences in pharmacy, our emotional ties to cancer, and our intense desire to discover drug-pricing truths, we have been drawn to the ongoing story on Gleevec pricing.  Here is this miracle cancer drug that has been off-patent (i.e. generic) for over two years now, so theoretically, the generic version should be yielding tremendous savings. But it isn’t. For many, generic Gleevec still has an annual price tag equivalent to a luxury vehicle. Something didn't seem right, so we dove into public CMS Medicaid program data to see what we could find.

What we’ve identified is a serious flaw in how several states are managing prescription drug spending for generic drugs within their Medicaid programs, and we suspect that what we’ve found could be occurring in non-Medicaid plans as well. While the price of generic Gleevec has been declining rapidly, we found that many state programs aren’t seeing the savings, and in fact, there are some states that are paying twice as much as other states. 

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