Jan 8, 2019

Why drug prices keep rising

Photo: George Frey/Getty Images

Two factors contribute to rising drug costs — price increases for existing drugs, and new drugs coming to market with high price tags.

The big picture: Each of those factors affects different parts of the market, according to a study published in the latest issue of Health Affairs. New products largely drive the cost increases for generics and specialty drugs, the study found, but price hikes on existing treatments drive the rising cost of brand-name drugs.

My thought bubble: A lot of the political debate over drug prices falls along these same lines.

  • The pharmaceutical industry would rather have a conversation about new specialty drugs that carry high price tags, but which often work a lot better than other, older treatments.
  • But the industry’s critics point to steep price hikes on old drugs — insulin is a prime example, as was the EpiPen — that are getting more expensive even though they’re not changing.
  • We’ll see plenty of both in 2019.

Go deeper: The drug pricing maze

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Bernie Sanders wins Nevada caucus

Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders waves to supporters at a campaign rally on Friday in Las Vegas. Photo: Mario Tama/Getty Images

Sen. Bernie Sanders is projected to handily win the Nevada Democratic primary caucus, according to the Associated Press, with 10% of precincts reporting.

Why it matters: Nevada is the first state with a diverse population to hold a nominating contest, highlighting candidates' abilities to connect with voters of color — particularly Latino voters.

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South Korea and Italy see spikes in coronavirus cases

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins, the CDC, and China's Health Ministry. Note: China numbers are for the mainland only and U.S. numbers include repatriated citizens.

The novel coronavirus has spread to more nations, and the U.S. reports a doubling of its confirmed cases to 34 — while noting these are mostly due to repatriated citizens, emphasizing there's no "community spread" yet in the United States.

The big picture: COVID-19 has now killed at least 2,362 people and infected more than 77,000 others, mostly in mainland China. New countries to announce infections recently include Israel and Lebanon, while Iran reported its sixth death from the virus. South Korea's confirmed cases jumped from 204 Friday to 433 on Saturday and Italy's case count rose from 3 to 62 by Saturday.

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America's rundown roads add to farmers' struggles

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

American farmers are struggling to safely use the roads that cut through their fields; decades of neglect and lack of funding have made the routes dangerous.

The big picture: President Trump has long promised to invest billions in rural infrastructure, and his latest proposal would allocate $1 trillion for such projects. Rural America, where many of Trump's supporters live, would see a large chunk of that money.