An Evidence-based Approach to Controlling Drug Costs

Authors: Mark Ratain and Michael Stebbins


Optimizing the dosing of many expensive drugs can drastically reduce both costs and toxicities. The Federal Government, state governments, employers, and individual patients could collectively save tens of billions of dollars each year by simply optimizing the dosing of the most expensive prescription drugs on the market, particularly in oncology. Optimized dosing can also improve health outcomes. The next administration should, therefore, launch an effort to control the cost of prescription drugs through an evidence-based approach to optimizing drug dosing and improving outcomes. The requisite trials pay for themselves in immediate cost savings.

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About the Authors

Mark J. Ratain, M.D. has been a faculty member in the Department of Medicine at The University of Chicago since 1986, and is currently the Leon O. Jacobson Professor of Medicine, the Director of the Center for Personalized Therapeutics and Chief Hospital Pharmacologist. In addition, Dr. Ratain serves as the Associate Director for Clinical Sciences in the University’s Comprehensive Cancer Center. Dr. Ratain’s research has historically focused on the development of new oncology drugs and diagnostics, but is increasingly focused on the new discipline of interventional pharmacoeconomics. He is the recipient of awards from multiple organizations, including the American Association of Pharmaceutical Scientists, the American Society for Clinical Pharmacology and Therapeutics, the American Society of Clinical Oncology, the American College of Clinical Pharmacology, and the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers Association Foundation. Dr. Ratain is on the Board of the Value in Cancer Care Consortium.

Michael Stebbins, Ph.D is a geneticist, and public policy expert who served as the Assistant Director for Biotechnology in the Obama White House Office of Science and Technology Policy. He is currently the President of Science Advisors, a science and health consulting firm he founded in 2018 to provide science, technology, and public policy guidance to private companies, philanthropies, and non-profit organizations. While at the White House, Dr. Stebbins' work led to large initiatives across the Federal government to address antibiotic resistance, protect pollinators, improve veterans’ mental health, increase access to federally funded scientific research publications and data, promote the preferential purchasing of antibiotic free meats, reform the regulatory system for biotechnology products, drive Federal purchasing of bio-based products, and improve the management of scientific collections. Dr. Stebbins previously served as the Vice President of Science and Technology for the Laura and John Arnold Foundation, science advisor to the Obama Presidential Campaign, and on the Obama White House Transition Team. He is the former director of biology policy for the Federation of American Scientists and worked for U.S. Senator Harry Reid and at the National Human Genome Research Institute. Before coming to Washington, he was a senior editor at Nature Genetics.