Big Pharma Profits

Cartoon by Dave Granlund

Prescription drugs are too expensive.

In an effort to force prices down, the Trump administration is moving toward allowing importation of some drugs from Canada and other countries, a tactic pharmaceutical companies say risks the public’s safety. We’re sympathetic with the president’s inclination.

Anyone who has been sick recently knows about the ever-higher climb of drug prices, and no one is more aware of the problem than the nation’s senior population.

AARP reports that older adults take an average of 4.5 medications each month, which can add up to a total retail cost of more than $30,000 a year for brand-name drugs.

For people on a fixed income, that’s terrifying.

Here are four other things that would help:

Do away with restrictions preventing Medicare from negotiating with drug manufacturers for lower prices in the same fashion the Veterans Administration has for years. Big Pharma doesn’t want it, but everyone else should.

Bring generic drugs to the market faster and prohibit drug companies from paying off generic manufacturers to block the marketing of affordable alternatives. Congress and the federal bureaucracy can take steps to make the generic process go faster. One of the most important steps is preventing drug companies from cornering the market on life-saving products through sweetheart deals.

Set a federal cap on out-of-pocket prescription drug costs for Medicare clients. President Trump and Democrats in Congress have backed separate plans that would put Medicare Part D clients in the same position as most people covered by private insurance and everyone on “Obamacare.”

Hold drug manufacturers accountable for the prices they charge. Remember Martin Shkreli — the so-called “Pharma Bro” whose company bought the manufacturing license for a 62-year-old drug to treat protozoal infections then raised its price from $13.50 per pill to $750? He’s in prison now, thanks to the scrutiny given to his robber baron stunt. Rats run away from the light of day. Congress, advocates and press need to root out the bad actors and make them answer for their actions.

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