Bill: I trained as a Primary Care Physician and practiced for several years. I then became interested in the management of healthcare and population health. That led me to many years as a Medical Director and Chief Medical Officer and then as a Chief Operating Officer and then CEO. For several years I led the Military Health System – a very large job. I had the responsibility of caring for millions of American service members and their families. Most recently, I served as CEO of Highmark Health, which is a large, integrated healthcare delivery system.
Is there a problem with respect to the emergence of new medications that are truly effective for serious and life-threatening diseases, yet these medications are very expensive?
Bill: Yes, there is a problem. The problem is that the drugs are expensive. The problem is not that they are ineffective. In fact, that’s our challenge, that there are some really, truly, miraculous new medications that have come on the market and are going to be coming on the market in upcoming years. Targeted therapy – guided therapy – guided by pharmacokinetics and information that tells us exactly where to target the therapies. But, the problem is that these medications are expensive to develop. The pharmaceutical manufacturers have invested hundreds of millions – if not billions – of dollars into developing these medications and it’s important that they recover their costs.
So, it really does present a challenge for all of us – the pharmaceutical manufacturers, the providers, payers and government policy makers.