Today’s New York Times provides arguments from drug companies justifying the excessive jump in pharmaceutical prices in recent years, saying the higher prices won’t impact patients. 

Hospitals’ top priority is providing patients with safe and effective care, but the skyrocketing costs of pharmaceuticals can make doing so difficult. The high cost of prescription drugs leads to higher out-of-pocket costs for patients, who then may not be able to afford their medications. This may cause them to require further health care interventions – interventions that would have been avoidable if they had been able to take the original prescription. Indeed, these prices are putting a strain on the entire health care system – the drug companies’ statement that they only hurt a hospital’s bottom line is pure fantasy.

And patients aren’t the only ones suffering the effects of the higher prices -- taxpayers are also hurt. Because of the way Medicare pays for many drugs, increasing the base price means higher costs to the Medicare program.

Hospitals have worked hard to hold costs down. The same should be expected from the drug sector. The only ones who benefit from these unsustainable drug prices are pharmaceutical companies and their shareholders.