Here’s how you can fight back against high drug prices

The Patriot News - CSRxP

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  • Date

     August 26, 2016

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Penn Live
Here’s how you can fight back against high drug prices
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Everyone agrees that healthcare must become more affordable and accessible for all Pennsylvanians, especially underserved and vulnerable populations. Although there are many strategies for reaching this goal, prescription drug prices are one of the biggest stumbling blocks to progress.

Imagine that you are seven years old and on a field trip to a local farm. You don’t see the bee that stings you.

You only feel a burning pain near your sock. Your ankle gets stiff and starts to swell. So does your throat. Suddenly it’s hard to breathe and you feel dizzy.

The next thing you know, you’re on the ground, gasping.

The EpiPen that could save your life costs $600. Its price has gone up more than 480 percent over the last decade. Could your parents afford it? Does your teacher have it now?

Drug makers have taken a laissez faire attitude with regard to patients and the healthcare system.

Today, new pharmaceutical products are routinely introduced at six-figure prices.

Unique treatments for some deadly conditions have seen extreme price gouging. In this environment, annual price increases of 10% or more don’t make headlines but nonetheless have raised the costs of most drugs to back-breaking levels.

For consumers who pay out of pocket for some or all of the price of their medications, rising drug prices mean that a trip to the pharmacy is getting too expensive to bear.

Many patients who use medications to manage serious conditions are skipping doses, cutting pills, or not filling prescriptions at all.

Getting sick isn’t something any of us chooses. It should not be the cause of financial hardship for so many families, nor should insufficient funds so often be the difference between life and death.

Empathy for patients should compel us to act, but a hard-nosed financial analysis leads to the same conclusion: rising prescription drug prices are bad for America.

They are causing health insurance premiums to increase, which affects U.S. companies, especially small Main Street businesses, and stealing money from working families. Government programs including Medicare and Medicaid are being stretched thin, threatening the health of senior citizens and people in poverty.

To the pharmaceutical companies that argue that their sky-high prices are a just reward for research and development, think about this: profit from innovation, but do not profiteer.

Three things will help fix this broken system. First, transparency in drug pricing, so that public officials can monitor the market, budget for healthcare programs, and find solutions.

Second, greater competition and choice of treatments, so free market forces can bring down prices. And finally information about a treatment’s value, in other words its relative effectiveness, so that physicians and patients can make smart, cost-efficient decisions.

These solutions enjoy widespread support, but our elected leaders will not take action until they hear loud and clear that pharmaceutical drug pricing is an issue we take with us to the voting booth.

Pennsylvanians cannot allow our voices to be drowned out in Washington by drug company lobbyists.

The only way to ensure America will continue to expand affordable access to healthcare is for all of us to speak up, demand change, and hold our elected officials accountable.

By Antoinette Kraus