Clinical trial participants should have a say in new drug pricing

People who volunteer to participate in clinical trials of new drugs provide a valuable service to pharmaceutical companies and to the rest of us. In return, I think that they should have a say in how much these drugs will cost1 when they hit the market. Not only would that honor their service, but it would also provide a patient-centered mechanism to lower the price of new drugs.

The high cost of prescription drugs is a huge problem. It was a central topic in last year’s presidential election and continues to remain a pressing issue for legislators, policymakers, and the public. One of the major challenges is that it is often unclear exactly what drugs cost2. Currently, we see a kind of shell game taking place between pharmaceutical companies (who set the initial price), insurance companies (who pay the bill and set premiums), and pharmacy benefit managers3 (who negotiate secret rebates on behalf of the insurance company). Each party is now pointing fingers at the others for concealing the true price of medications and putting profits ahead of patient benefits and the public good.

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