With the presidential election less than two months away, we’re taking some time to see where the candidates stand on prescription drug access and affordability issues – and glance at the national positions of the Democratic and Republican parties. Drug prices are not a good issue for the candidates to ignore, as tens of millions of families across the nation are impacted. According to a study in the Journal of the American Medical Association, almost 60% of American adults took at least one prescription drug in 2012, with 15% taking five or more medications. Moreover, the cost of prescription drugs is their number one healthcare concern.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, an estimated 29.1 million people, or 9.3% of the U.S. population, have diabetes. Left untreated, diabetes can lead to unnecessary hospitalizations and death. While Diabetes ranks as the seventh leading cause of death in the U.S., many people with diabetes actually die from complications related to diabetes rather than the disease itself. In 2011, 85.3% of adults with diagnosed diabetes reported taking pills or insulin for their diabetes. But, the increasing cost of diabetes medications in the U.S. often leads patients to forgo or ration life-saving treatments.
American consumers face skyrocketing out-of-pocket costs for their prescription medications. Senate Bill 2019 – The Preserve Access to Affordable Generics Act (S. 2019) would lower these costs by stopping the anticompetitive practice of “pay-for-delay” deals, also known as “reverse payment agreements.” These schemes enable brand-name pharmaceutical companies to pay-off potential generic competitors to postpone launching lower cost generic medications. The Federal Trade Commission has estimated that eliminating these agreements would save consumers about $3.5 billion a year.
The Medicare Drug Price Negotiation Act is the type of legislative reform that America needs to reduce our spiraling national prescription drug bill. Here’s why.
Medicare Parts B and D, together representing the nation’s largest prescription drug program, help cover drug costs for approximately 55 million people. While that population represents just a fraction of 1% of the world, their Medicare drug bill in 2014 was $143 billion or just under 15% of the world’s total pharmaceutical market of that year (about $1.06 trillion according to IMS Health). Even at that level of expenditure, millions of older Americans continue struggling to fill their prescriptions.
Asthma is a chronic lung disease very common in the United States and worldwide. The disease is characterized by a narrowing of the airways in the lungs that is treatable with various medications and avoiding environmental factors that trigger asthma attacks. When patients don’t take prescribed medications to treat their asthma the consequences can be deadly. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that in 2010 asthma accounted for 3,404 deaths, 439,400 hospitalizations, 1.8 million emergency room visits, and 14.2 million physician office visits. Drug costs are one of the main reasons people are not taking their asthma medications.