Consider this opening line from a recent blog post;
“Discussions about costs are important. No patient should have to worry about whether they can afford the care they need…”
We’ve been saying this for a long time. In particular, prescription drug prices have caused too much financial insecurity for too many people for far too long. But let’s read on…
“At the same time, it is important to look at costs across the health care system and not just the share going toward life changing medicines.” Ok, let’s stop.
Can you guess where this is from? That’s right; it’s the opening line from a blog post written by the drug industry’s Washington lobby group, PhRMA.
To paraphrase: We know that being able to afford your drugs is really important, but if you consider the cost as a portion of overall national health care spending, current drug pricing is quite reasonable…Are you convinced? Probably not.
You’re probably not convinced because your pharmacist just told you the price you’ve been paying for your medications has just inexplicably skyrocketed. You’re probably not convinced because you’ve had to watch an elderly friend or family member struggle to pay for their medication and also afford the necessities of life. You’re probably not convinced because your insurance company has moved your family’s medications to a higher tier and switched out the co-pay for co-insurance because they’re getting too costly to cover.
The problem is that the pharmaceutical industry doesn’t understand or view high prescription drug prices at the personal level. They are looking at it as an abstract economic issue, and in that perspective they find their justification. In the context of total healthcare spending, prescription drugs may be a smaller portion of total expenditure. On that macro level the numbers may not be alarming. But from the standpoint of a person going about their day they are quite alarming.
The pharmaceutical industry wants Americans to believe that they empathize with their situation. But considering that they’re not willing to actually lower prices, or even slow down the rate of their price hikes, it makes their attempt at empathy seem hollow.
Safe and affordable medications are available, but action needs to be taken to make sure Americans can access them. Congress needs to act now and open up personal importation of prescription drugs from Canada so Americans, at the very least, will have an alternative that will allow them to get the drugs they need at an affordable price.