E.V.I.dently® | November 2021

In this issue: Explore the pitfalls in the most recent drug pricing deal, regulation that's led to improvements in employee benefits and keys to improving equity in health coverage. 

featured Featured


Missteps in Drug Pricing Deal

The drug pricing policies in the Build Back Better Act, like many other “solutions” on health care spending, come with downsides and costs that are only apparent after close examination of health policy research. In a new commentary published in RealClearPolicy, NPC’s President and CEO, John M. O’Brien, PharmD, MPH, outlines how the drug pricing provisions in the bill could create harmful unintended consequences for patient health and the future of innovation.

The proposals in the BBB Act reflect a common misstep in the health care spending debate: the tendency to focus only on drug spending, without a more holistic examination of other health services. A study published in the Journal of Managed Care and Specialty Pharmacy, led by members of NPC’s research team, shows that spending on prescription drugs is not an anomaly but rather aligns with spending patterns for other health care services.

For the latest research and analysis on health spending, check out the first issue of our new bi-monthly newsletter, Digging Deeper Into Health Spending.

Highlights icon NPC Highlights


Pricing Report Misses the Mark

In their third drug pricing report, the Institute for Clinical and Economic Review repeats the mistakes of prior reports and builds their latest analysis on inadequate evidence, selectively picked data and inconsistent methods. NPC outlined the significant flaws embedded in the report and cautioned that the flawed data should not be used to inform health care policy decisions.

Read the blog.
Diabetes Patient Working

Employers Opt for Broader Health Coverage After IRS Rule Change 

The upfront costs of high-deductible health plans can make it hard for people with chronic diseases to access care. An NPC-funded study by the Employee Benefit Research Institute suggests that employers recognize the downsides and costs of barriers to care. The study found that 76% of large employers responded to a 2019 IRS rule change by expanding pre-deductible coverage for medications and health services used to prevent exacerbations of common chronic conditions. Most employers (81%) said they would further broaden this coverage if allowed by law.

Read about the study.
National Alliance Action Brief

Promoting Equity in Health Benefit Design

NPC recently updated its Employer Resource Guide to include a new action brief developed with the National Alliance of Healthcare Purchaser Coalitions titled “Better Value, Smarter Deductibles in HSA-HDHPs: Improving Health, Equity & Engagement.” With more than 50% of the U.S. workforce enrolled in a high-deductible health plan, the brief highlights steps employers can take to reduce access barriers and better consider strategies for equity in health benefit design. NPC also addressed ways to improve equity in formulary and benefit design at this year’s AMCP Partnership Forum. The Journal of Managed Care and Specialty Pharmacy recently published proceedings from the event.

Read more.

Icon events Mark Your Calendar

ISPOR Europe 2021

Nov. 30 - Dec. 3, 2021 

During this virtual conference, NPC Chief Science Officer and Executive Vice President Robert Dubois, MD, PhD, will moderate a panel discussion on health technology assessments and the implications of uncertainty for “best practices” and policy decision-making. The panel will include experts from the National Institute of Health and Care Excellence, the Institute for Clinical and Economic Review, Tufts Medical Center Institute for Clinical Research and Health Policy Studies, and the University of Strathclyde.


caregiver walking with older manHealth care shouldn’t be this hard to navigate. Poorly designed, outdated health insurance can create barriers for patients and their caregivers in accessing needed treatments.

John M. O’Brien, PharmD, MPH
President and CEO, NPC



  • NPC announced its Board of Directors for the 2021-2022 term, with Steven Romano, MD, Executive Vice President and Chief Scientific Officer of Mallinckrodt Pharmaceuticals, elected to serve as Board Chair.  

  • NPC President and CEO John M. O’Brien, PharmD, MPH joined a panel of experts during an NPC/AcademyHealth webinar on the impact of and possible changes to price transparency reporting. Visit our event recap page for the on-demand webinar and summary blog. 

  • NPC's Dr. O'Brien offered perspectives in a commentary for Pharmacy Times, where he describes why pharmacists are so vital to ensuring patient access to needed medicines. In a recent blog post, he shares his experiences as a caregiver and discusses how our health care system can better support caregivers.  

  • In a blog post examining the role of health technology agencies (HTA), NPC’s Immediate Past Board Chair Michael Ryan of Bristol Myers Squibb advises caution and careful consideration of the potential consequences for patients by using a centralized, government-run HTA to assess the value of new health care interventions. 

  • In a Health Affairs Blog, NPC Vice President of Research Michael Ciarametaro, MBA, and coauthors explore the tradeoffs and risks associated with international reference pricing.