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Gimlet eye on drug firms’ patient-aid programs

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Patient-assistance programs funded by  drugmakers cost the healthcare system a lot — an increasingly sensitive issue as prescription-drug spending  and drug companies’ profit soar, threatening to derail efforts to bring U.S. health costs under control.

Prescription-drug spending rose rose 13 percent in 2014, compared with 5.6 percent growth of overall healthcare spending.

An article in Modern Healthcare says: “Critics say patient-assistance programs help manufacturers keep prices high and demand for their branded products strong, and discourage patients and doctors from switching to cheaper alternative medications. Even though some drugmakers have publicly disclosed their contributions to these programs—many of which purport to be independent charities—information about contributors remains incomplete. That makes it difficult to discern how much influence the donors have.”

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