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Rising drug costs only 'getting worse': Expert

Drug costs continue to rise and will only get worse moving forward, one expert contended Tuesday.

"It is an emerging problem and every year it's getting worse," said Dr. Peter Bach, director of the Memorial Sloan Kettering Center for Health Policy and Outcomes, said on CNBC's "Closing Bell."

Drug costs have surged into the public consciousness this year amid price hikes for multiple specialty medicines and calls for government action. Democratic presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders have repeatedly criticized drug expenses, and Sanders tweeted Monday that the U.S. system should provide care "in the most cost-effective way possible."

Prescription drugs
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The issue is unlikely to fade even with the upcoming change in presidential administrations, said Ipsita Smolinski, managing director and health-care analyst at Capitol Street.

"I think there's really going to be a spotlight over the next few years regardless of who takes the White House," she said Tuesday on "Closing Bell."

But drug costs are only one problem in an American health-care system that needs to be made more affordable across the board, contended Dr. Ron Cohen, CEO of Acorda Therapeutics, on Tuesday.

Industry leaders and policymakers need to focus on "accessible, affordable care" without stifling investment in the next generation of medicines, he said. Cohen told CNBC's "Closing Bell" that the industry should address "astronomical" costs that go well beyond drugs.