Why I Fight For Prescription Justice

Posted at 5:42 PM on Apr 12, 2021


By Dr. Isaiah A. Cochran, Vice President, Board of Directors Prescription JusticeIsaiah Photo.jpg

My name is Doctor Isaiah Cochran.  I have had the privilege to work on the front line as a physician now for almost an entire year during the COVID-19 pandemic. I am a first-year family medicine resident at Halifax Medical Center working with a spectrum of patients ranging from newborns to people in their 90s. 

Before my current role, I served as the National President of the American Medical Student Association (AMSA) after graduating from Wright State University Boonshoft School of Medicine. I spent a year serving as the president of AMSA not only to support pre-med and med students all over the country but also to embolden future physicians to stand up for their patients inside and outside of the clinics and in the communities they serve. 

I strongly believe that to accomplish our mission to serve as doctors, we must also participate in advocacy, health policy,  and holding our legislators accountable for the laws and policies they enact and fail to enact. Here at Prescription Justice, we have worked very hard to provide the public with information about what our legislators are doing to fight for affordable medications. Our Prescription Justice Scorecard brings transparency to how each Senator and Representative scores with regards to affordable medications and their interactions with big pharma companies. 

Providing affordable medications for every single person in the United States is of the utmost importance.  Many physicians and other practitioners end up having their hands tied due to the exorbitant costs of prescription medications. A first-line medication that is most efficacious for a specific disease or disorder may not be able to be utilized because a patient cannot afford the medication. 

Big Pharma and insurance companies are, in a sense, dictating how medicine is being practiced. An example is insulin, a medication used for quelling the effects of diabetes and allowing for patients to maintain adequate blood glucose homeostasis.  In the United States, insulin can cost up to as much as 2.5 times the amount that it costs in other developed countries. Americans regularly travel to Canada and other countries to obtain their insulin because they can simply not afford to pay for the drug that keeps them alive. Many more ration their insulin, risking and sometimes losing their lives. This is not okay, and it must change.

Why are basic medications so expensive in the United States? The answer is complicated but here are three main reasons: 1) The United States has a multi payer insurance system with several entities each taking a margin, 2) The government does not currently regulate prescription medication prices essentially allowing for Big Pharma companies to charge whatever they please, 3) There is marketing exclusivity for patented innovator medications meaning pharmaceutical company X has a patent on a certain medication, preventing any other pharmaceutical companies from making that same drive or similar drugs. This eliminates competition and once again allows for the cost of medications to be priced at whatever the company feels is best for them and their balance sheet. 

It is high time that all of us use our voices to stand up for our loved ones and for our communities. Here in the United States of America, we are blessed to be able to interact with our representatives and legislators and fight for change. Health care is a human right and access to affordable medications part of that right. Prescription Justice believes that this is a nonpartisan issue. This is something that we should all be working to change, regardless of party affiliation or ideology. 

Unfortunately, we know that Big Pharma has long had influence over many representatives in our local, state, and federal governments. We must take this seriously,  and write, meet, and work with our representatives to change the processes of how drug pricing is established and regulated. 

I challenge you to take a look at our Prescription Justice Scorecard, and form a team of individuals and reach out to your representatives to either encourage them to continue to fight for affordable medications or to get them to join the fight. Please reach out to me on LinkedIn to tell me about it.  I welcome your questions, ideas, and suggestions and look forward to working together to create the prescription justice that our country needs and deserves. 

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