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.
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.
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.