Feb 23, 2017

Drug companies are hiring academics to defend prices

Jeff Lewis / AP

Annie Waldman of ProPublica has a story today explaining how the pharmaceutical industry is hiring academic economists and health policy professors to help justify the rising price tags of their drugs.

The piece centers around a firm called Precision Health Economics. Drug companies have paid the firm's experts to assist them with drug pricing and messaging. Their work has appeared in blogs, health policy journals and congressional testimony, giving an aura of academic rigor and independence, but the experts sometimes have not disclosed their ties to the industry.

Why this matters: Drug companies know the prices of their products are a top political concern, as more people have aired concerns about being unable to afford their medicine. This latest story builds on the growing corporate theme of quietly paying outside voices to make their business strategies more palatable to the public. ProPublica did a separate piece in November that showed companies are hiring university antitrust professors to defend their mergers in court.

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