‘QUALITY-OF-LIFE PHARMACOLOGY’: Trend Raises Questions
Yesterday's Washington Post looked at "quality-of-life pharmacology," the "new frontier of drug development" led largely by biotech companies that "hope to keep people looking and feeling vigorous well into the decades that used to be regarded as old age." Human Genome Sciences Inc. head William Haseltine said, "Where all this technology is taking us is into a series of qualitative improvements in people's lives. We'll be using our knowledge to help the body rebuild itself." But the Post reports that "this push for quality-of-life drugs raises vexing new questions for the nation's health care system," most notably the issue of cost. Health insurers and employers "already are deeply worried about the potential cost of these drugs," fears the Post notes are reinforced by insurers' recent reports of "double-digit increases ... in prescription costs." Watson Wyatt Worldwide analyst Helen Darling said, "We've had a kind of honeymoon in the last few years on health care costs. These new treatments, repairing damage done over a lifetime, will force a new public debate about what costs should be borne by everyone through socialized dollars. I believe the big crunch is still ahead of us" (Gillis, 4/26).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.