While the intense focus in Congress last week was the passage of the American Healthcare Act, millions of Americans continue to struggle with the cost of prescription medications. In 2016, 45 million Americans did not fill a prescription because of cost, and a recent poll commissioned by Prescription Justice shows that 75% Americans agree with President Trump that they drug companies are getting away with murder.
Not just individual patients but federal and state governments face an uphill budget battle as well. Public programs like Medicare, Medicaid and the Department of Veteran's Affairs continue to grapple with dramatic price increases that are crippling their budgets.
Congress has introduced several bills in 2017 to address the crisis of high drug prices. Here’s a summary:
Improving Access to Affordable Prescription Drugs Act (HR 1776/S. 771)
On March 29, S. 771, The Improving Access to Affordable Prescription Drugs Act (Act), was introduced by Senator Al Franken (D-MN) and fifteen Democratic co-sponsors. A companion bill (HR 1776) was also introduced in the House by Representative Jan Schakowsky (D-IL) with four Democratic co-sponsors.
Morning Consult, a nonpartisan digital media and research company, has published an op-ed, The RX Rip-off, by Prescription Justice’s Executive Director, Jodi Dart. The op-ed highlights Prescription Justice’s recent poll by Zogby analytics that reveals roughly 79 percent of Americans believe prescription drug prices are too high, and nearly 52 percent believe that pharmaceutical companies engage in price gouging and put profits over patients. The poll also shows that overwhelming majorities support changes that will bring down drug prices, which comes hard on the heels of new Prescription Justice analysis showing 45 million Americans did not fill a prescription last year due to cost.
Ms. Dart writes that there are concrete steps that members of Congress and the Trump administration should take to help the millions of Americans who struggle with the high cost of prescription medications. These include allowing Medicare to negotiate with pharmaceutical manufacturers to lower prices, ending pay to delay to increase access to generic drugs and importing less expensive drugs from other countries, and, finally, making personal drug importation legal. Ms. Dart also emphasizes that President Trump could immediately help Americans through executive actions to expressly permit the safe use of international online pharmacies on which orders are placed to import medication for personal use.