Ethical Perspectives on Costly Drugs and Health Care: AAN Position Statement

Neurology. 2021 Oct 5;97(14):685-692. doi: 10.1212/WNL.0000000000012571.


High drug prices have created substantial challenges for patients, physicians, health systems, and payers. High drug prices can affect patient care in many ways, including limiting access to treatment, increasing the burden of administrative tasks, and contributing to physician burnout. Exorbitant drug pricing poses direct challenges for distributive justice, which is concerned with fairly distributing benefits and burdens across society. In this position statement, we discuss ethical concerns raised by high drug costs, primarily focusing on concerns around distributive justice. We consider forms of rationing, approaches to allocation, potential complexities in real-life application, and structural forces contributing to high drug costs. Finally, we consider potential policy solutions and ramifications for individual clinicians.

MeSH terms

  • Drug Costs*
  • Humans