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Big Pharma, hospitals get into finger-pointing on rising healthcare costs

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Spokespeople for the pharmaceutical industry blame hospitals for the continued big increases in healthcare costs; the hospital industry has fired back.

Kirsten Axelsen, vice president of worldwide policy for Pfizer, told  FiercePharma that hospital costs are generally higher than drug costs, but that patients can more easily have have a negative view of Big Pharma because patients can see drug prices  much more clearly than usually very opaque hospital fees because of how insurance plans are designed.

And, of course, there’s politics involved, noted former California Congressman David Dreier:  Almost every member of Congress has a hospital in his or her district but only few have  drug manufacturers.

In 2016, the United States spent $3.4 trillion on healthcare, including $1.1 trillion in hospital costs, $683 billion in physician and clinical expenditures and $348 billion on prescription drugs.

But Tom Nickels, executive vice president for government relations and public policy for the American Hospital Association, told FiercePharma that Big Pharma’s argument is “laughable”

“Just because you are a bigger part of something doesn’t mean that you should be the focus in terms of cost reductions.” Mr. Nickels said, adding that some drug companies have implemented “predatory pricing” practices.

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