Research!America president and CEO Mary Woolley moderated a panel discussion on a timely and challenging topic, “Breakthrough Medicine: How Can Patients Afford it?” at the Aspen Spotlight Health Conference on June 22 in Aspen, Colorado. She opened the session by citing public opinion survey data showing deep public unhappiness about high costs and lack of access, as well as declining trust.
Gary Reedy, CEO, American Cancer Society, emphasized that all stakeholders—very much including patients - must be involved in discussions of affordability and innovation. Referencing the importance of access he said, “Where you live should not determine if you live.” Andy Slavitt, founder and chairman, United States of Care, observed that it is a ‘false choice’ to not have both innovation and affordability. It’s all about constant drive for value.
Woolley challenged the panelists to go beyond oft-cited calls for ‘systemic change’ to be specific about how to increase value. Panelist Jeff Marrazzo, CEO of Spark Therapeutics, which has made news recently with a one-time intervention to reverse blindness, said his company has launched patient-friendly initiatives such as alternative payment models and outcome-based rebates. Other potential solutions include negotiated discounts at the pharmacy, improving options for seniors in Medicare Part D, and re-evaluating the reimbursement system, suggested Steve Ubl, president and CEO of PhRMA.