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James Robinson wins grant to study the cost of infused drugs to consumers

Study will look at ways to mitigate high markups

Berkeley Public Health is pleased to announce that James Robinson, PhD, MPH, professor and chair of the Health Policy and Management Division at Berkeley Public Health, has been awarded a $49,000 grant from the NIHCM Foundation to study how much patients are charged for infused drugs and strategies that may lower those costs. Robinson’s co-investigators come from UCSF and the RAND Corporation.

“High drug prices offer manufacturers the revenues they need to sustain investments in research and development, but pose severe financing and access problems for patients.  The problem is compounded when hospitals charge high markups, often over 100%, on the prices for infused biologics and chemotherapies,” says Robinson.

Using national data from thousands of patients covered by BlueCross BlueShield, the study will compare price markups on expensive drugs for inflammatory, auto-immune, and other serious conditions at hospital outpatient clinics and physician’s offices. The study will develop strategies for reducing drug markups, thereby reducing the financial burden on patients, while retaining needed revenues for manufacturers.

Robinson hopes his research will be a win-win, both for pharmaceutical companies, and the patients they serve. “It will help the nation better balance the competing needs for more investment in pharmaceutical innovation, on the one hand, and better patient access to needed drugs, on the other,” he said.