A large share of medication that is imported by Americans for personal use from Canada and many other countries is ordered on the Internet. It’s not a secret that the pharmaceutical industry, U.S. chain pharmacies and the U.S Food and Drug Administration are not happy about it. But what they are doing about it is less well-known and even less well-understood. An important article published by Jeremy Malcolm of the Electronic Frontier Foundation last week called “How Big Pharma’s Shadow Regulation Censors the Internet” brings the situation into clear view. Multinational pharmaceutical companies and the FDA are funding non-profit groups, global initiatives, or private companies, ones that all work with each other, to make it harder, and may make it impossible, for Americans to buy medications online for personal import.
Americans are dying from cancer because they either can’t afford the medications to treat it, or they have the money but refuse to bankrupt their families. Cancer is the second leading cause of death after heart disease in the U.S., claiming more than half a million lives each year. In 2016, it is estimated that 1,685,210 new cases of cancer will be diagnosed in the U.S., amounting to one new diagnosis every 30 seconds.
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.