Is There a Cure for High Drug Prices?
Consumer Reports, August 2016
Here are selected excerpts from this comprehensive overview of the causes and possible solutions for high drug prices:
“The cost of prescription drugs for tens of millions of Americans rose $2 billion last year, and all signs point to a continued rise. At stake is nothing less than the ability of Americans to afford the medicines they need. Can we stop the madness?” ….
“Our analysis suggests that high prices for generic and brand-name drugs stem in part from a battle over profit between mammoth industries—big pharma and insurance companies—with consumers caught in the middle. On the one hand, pharmaceutical companies blame insurance companies for passing along high costs to consumers. And insurance companies point to very high-priced drugs for which there are few or no alternatives, which ultimately affects how much insurance coverage people receive and how much they must pay out of their pockets.”
This comprehensive article goes on to list five reasons why drug costs are so high and rising:
Reason 1: Drug Companies Can Charge Whatever Price They Want
Reason 2: Insurance Companies Are Also Charging You More
Reason 3: Old Drugs Are Reformulated as Costly ‘New’ Drugs
Reason 4: Generic Drug Shortages Can Trigger Massive Price Increases
Reason 5: Specialty Drugs Are Costing All of Us
The article goes on to outline “What the Government Can Do:”
“Consumers are looking to the government to take action to control drug prices. In our CR Best Buy Drugs poll, 77 percent of people taking a medication said the government should allow more generics onto the market sooner; 74 percent want the government to pressure drug companies to charge less. Seventy-nine percent say insurers should pressure pharmaceutical companies to lower drug prices; 81 percent said consumers should do the same.
“More specific steps that could help control costs include asking the government to:
• Set a limit on out-of-pocket costs. … For example, last year California enacted a law so that a consumer won’t pay more than $250 for a single prescription drug per month, or $500 for certain high-deductible plans.
• Approve more generic versions of common drugs. Currently, 4,300 generic drug applications await an FDA decision. …
• Allow limited importation of drugs from legitimate Canadian and European sources, which currently is illegal under U.S. law. …
• Use government’s existing “march-in” rights. It works like this: If there is a problem with the public’s access to a drug (a supply shortage or an exorbitant price), and if a drug was developed using taxpayer money, the Department of Health and Human Services has the right to force the company to allow another manufacturer to make generic versions that are cheaper for the consumer.”
See the full article here.