CVS Health officials have been asked to clarify their partnership with a controversial organization.
The organization is the Institute for Clinical and Economic Review (ICER), which, according to Justin Danhof of the National Center for Public Policy Research, appears to be trying to ration patient care and distort pharmaceutical pricing, potentially paving the way for a "Medicare for All" system. So Danhof went to the CVS shareholder meeting Thursday in Rhode Island to ask the following questions:
Can you explain how working with ICER benefits CVS Health consumers – and why CVS would discriminate against folks with disabilities and the elderly?
"CEO Larry Merlo … dodged around the issue relatively deftly, saying that his concern is just when drugs and therapies come to the market that don't have competition, that there is a proper way to set that price," Danhof shares with OneNewsNow. "Our point is absolutely there is a proper way to set the price, but having a guy who supports socialized medicine have his group come in set the price isn't the way to do it."
The "guy" to whom Danhof refers is Dr. Steven Pearson of ICER. Pearson previously worked with the United Kingdom's National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE).
"I've heard from many pharmaceutical companies that he's just coming in and placing arbitrary numbers on new drugs that come out," Danhof continues, "but of course, some of these drugs take decades in the making to create – and they are going to be expensive because of the research and development and the trial and error …. [F]or every drug that comes to market, you know, dozens don't make it because they don't pass through clinical trials and whatnot."
While not everyone uses or shops at CVS, Danhof says it reaches one in three Americans. It also recently purchased Aetna.
"All of those consumers are now in that fold as well," he points out. "Folks who have high medical expenses may now see that their doctor may want a certain treatment and they'll go to CVS to get it filled, and be told, Sorry, it doesn't meet our cost-effectiveness threshold – which is a gentle way of saying rationed care."
CVS Health did not respond to OneNewsNow's request for comment.
David Almasi of the National Center for Public Policy Research went to the Johnson & Johnson shareholder meeting in April to urge that company to break ties with ICER as well.