Posted on Jul 27, 2020, 9 p.m.
In an attempt to help make FDA approved medications more affordable, President Trump recently signed a series of executive orders that are geared towards stopping pharmaceutical companies from price gouging.
Judd Deere who is a spokesman for the White House said that the current administration “continues to explore any and all options that will deliver lower cost drugs, while ensuring we have access to the most innovative vaccines and therapeutics in the world.”
The recent signings align with the President's promise to tackle this issue during his first term in office when he also suggested that drug prices were too high, especially when compared to the price of the same drug’s cost in other countries. The President has proposed a version of this idea in 2018 in what was called the International Price Index, but it remains stalled since then.
“One of my greatest priorities is to reduce the price of prescription drugs,” Trump announced during his first State of the Union address back in 2017. “In many other countries, these drugs cost far less than what we pay in the United States. That is why I have directed my administration to make fixing the injustice of high drug prices one of our top priorities. Prices will come down.”
Full details of the executive orders are still being examined. One of the rumoured reforms may be for Medicare regulators to eliminate rebates that drug makers pay to pharmacy benefit managers that the president is pushing for. One of the orders is likely to include a version of the proposal to reduce the cost of some drugs to the lower prices paid in other countries for the same drugs.
One of the proposed changes that has been talked about recently, that could be of big help, if successfully implemented, is for hospitals to receive discounted drugs under the government’s 340B program which encourages more domestic manufacturing of drugs as opposed to how most drugs are now currently outsourced to be made in places like China and India. This proposal could also help with supply and demand as well as shortages.
White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows in a statement indicated that “We’re talking about executive orders that will actually make a big difference, lowering prescription drug prices,” Meadows stated.“This president is going to do three different executive orders that will substantially make sure that the average American gets to pay less for their prescription drugs,” he added. In an interview on Fox, Meadows said, “We’re going to look at a number of issues as it relates to prescription drug prices…”
According to The Kaiser Family Foundation 70% of Americans want Congress to work on legislation to lower the cost of prescription drug prices which have been on the rise in recent years. Nearly one third of Americans have seen steep out of pocket costs for drugs they take on a regular basis in the last year alone according to a Consumer Reports survey; and these people “were almost twice as likely to not fill a prescription, forgo other medical treatments or tests, cut back on groceries, or get a second job.”
Even Joe Biden wants to address prescription costs in his plan which would allow Medicare to negotiate with drug companies for cheaper prices, allow consumers to buy drugs from other countries, and limit price increases for most drugs to inflation.
“Too many Americans cannot afford their prescription drugs, and prescription drug corporations are profiteering off of the pocketbooks of sick individuals. The Biden Plan will put a stop to runaway drug prices and the profiteering of the drug industry,” according to his campaign.
Currently there are no federal laws or regulations in place to effectively keep the prices of drugs manageable or in check, and there is no standard cost price listing. Recently when the heads of 7 leading drug companies were questioned and testified before the US Senate they justified the prices because of the money it costs to develop new medications, but when pressed these industry executives admitted that these costs could be controlled if the entire payment system was reformed.
Supply and demand also plays a part in costs, as well as the drug supply system middle-people who wheel and deal with the drug makers. Insurance coverage is another big part of the problem with more Americans paying more or even the full price for their drugs. As it stands there is no sign of the price of drug increases slowing down, and it needs to be addressed.
At least 50 separate pieces of legislation have been introduced to the Senate and the House of Representatives in 2019 that seek getting control of the prices of prescription drugs, but not a single one of these have made it from just being introduced, and Americans remain stuck in the middle.
While this is a tricky topic and it is far from being simple, it is important, as many Americans go without the treatment that could very well save lives due to them being so unaffordable. While lowering prices seems great in theory, it also brings about questions regarding proper testing, rushed science, and the true cost of health and wellness from this perspective, especially in light of the current outbreak.
What is important to keep in mind is what is being pushed for, and that is transparent pricing and affordability for what is necessary as opposed to profit at the cost of health and life, which is the system that seems to currently be in place here in America. While it remains unclear if any of these actions will actually take effect, fingers crossed to hope that some positive change and real good comes out of this that benefits Americans from all walks of life equally.
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