Bill Hammond takes a one-sided view of prescription drug costs in his article, “Drug lobbyists push bitter pill on taxpayers,” (March 23). He says New York State “could save hundreds of millions of dollars” by instituting a preferred drug list for Medicaid that would “steer patients away” from newer brand name drugs. However, research has shown that restricting access to these drugs may actually increase overall health costs.
Columbia University Prof. Frank Lichtenberg has found that replacing older medicines with newer ones reduced other health expenditures by up to $8 for every $1 spent on the newer drugs. Newer medicines are usually more effective, have fewer side effects, and may treat conditions for which no existing effective treatment is available. Denying patients these drugs may mean more doctors’ visits, more hospitalizations, and more spending on less effective medicines.
Is it possible that New York legislators are actually looking at the bigger picture and are not simply beholden to lobbyists, as Mr. Hammond suggests?