Last week, Senators Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) proposed an amendment (S.A. 178) to the Senate Budget Reconciliation bill that would allow individuals, pharmacies and wholesalers to import prescription medications from Canada and other countries with a valid prescription from a U.S. provider.
The amendment took place during a 7-hour vote-a-rama in which more than 150 amendments were considered and voted on for a brief ten minutes.The amendment failed 52-46, with 13 Democrats voting against it. While the measure failed to pass, it surprisingly garnered support from 12 Republicans including Senators Ted Cruz and Rand Paul. It’s worth noting that Senators Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Kristen Gillibrand (D-NY) voted against the Dorgan-Snowe importation amendment in 2009, voted yes this time around. (more…)
Value-based pharmaceutical pricing, aimed at achieving better value for pharmaceutical spending and lowering drug prices, while maintaining innovation, is a concept that is gaining traction. In the U.S., prescription drug prices are set by pharmaceutical companies to maximize profits, not based on how well a drug works. In contrast, according to its proponents, value-based drug pricing would mean real health outcomes (not just profits) determine the cost of a drug.
President-Elect Trump’s push for healthcare reform that focuses on free market, consumer-driven initiatives will enhance the political viability of value-based drug pricing. It has more support by the pharmaceutical industry than other popular policies to bring down drug prices, as it’s viewed as more in line with free market principles than other policy proposals, such as allowing Medicare to negotiate drug prices.
The pharmaceutical industry often defends shameful price gouging of consumers by arguing that their high profits fund the research and development of tomorrow’s new miracle cures. There is robust debate about the degree to which lowering drug prices would hurt pharmaceutical innovation. The current system holds consumers and governments hostage to pharmaceutical company business models in a manner that is inherently unethical. Think of the cancer patient who has to shell out $30,000 in co-insurance to live, and if not, then die.
The concept and practice of “delinkage,” in which the invention of new medicines is delinked from high drug prices transcends this old debate and envisions a brighter more humane future…one with robust pharmaceutical innovation.
Last year, U.S. spending on prescription drugs was at a record breaking $425 billion before discounts, and is expected to rise by 22% annually over the next five years, which is 400%, or over $600 billion by 2020. As Donald Trump is sworn in as the 45th president of the United States, Americans across the country concerned with the soaring costs of prescription medications, will be looking to President Trump and Congress for solutions to address this national crisis.
President-Elect Trump’s top priority for healthcare reform is to repeal the Affordable Care Act, but most Americans are more concerned about prescription drug prices than Obamacare. A recent Kaiser Health Tracking Poll found that nearly 74 percent of Americans agree that a top priority for the next president and Congress should be to ensure that drugs for chronic health conditions are affordable for patients. Additionally, 63 percent believe that the federal government’s top priority should be to lower the cost of prescription medications. Last week, President-Elect Trump released a brief healthcare plan on his transition website. While the newest healthcare plan does not include prescription drug pricing, during the campaign Mr. Trump declared support for allowing Americans to import lower cost medications as part of his 7-point healthcare plan. Although not noted on that plan, President-Elect Trump voiced support for Medicare drug price negotiations during his campaign.
Part of a series of posts about common chronic illnesses and what happens when people cannot afford prescription medications to treat them.
Hepatitis C is an infection caused by a virus that attacks the liver and causes inflammation. An estimated 3.5 million Americans are living with hepatitis C, with about half unaware they even have it. Recent advancements in hepatitis C treatments have greatly improved. New medications can lead to a cure in about 90 percent of people. But the prices for such treatments are prohibiting access and that means more people will remain sick and sometimes die. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that in 2014, hepatitis C related deaths reached an all-time high of 19,659, killing more Americans each year than all other infectious diseases combined, including HIV.