According to Politico D.C.’s potent pharmaceutical lobby group, the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA), is preparing a massive public relations campaign worth hundreds of millions of dollars. The idea is to combat the industry’s poor image…obtained largely by massive, unrestrained and inexplicable price increases. This comes after loud protests by political leaders and the public alike and it seems the pharmaceutical industry is feeling the heat. Politicians in both major parties have called for reform. Even both major presidential candidates favor some sort of government intervention to increase access to affordable prescription drugs, in particular personal importation from Canada.
This quote from Topher Spiro, Vice President of Health Policy at the Center for American Progress sums it up, “They [the pharmaceutical industry] talk a good game. … But when push comes to shove, they are not willing to budge on their public positions or their policy positions so it’s hard to give them any credit whatsoever.”
Nowhere in Politico’s article is any indication that part of PhRMA’s upcoming public relations blitz is actually dealing with the cause of the public backlash, the high price of prescription drugs. Despite this being the root of the problem, lowering prices, or at least not raising them as quickly, does not appear to be part of the plan. No doubt their upcoming campaign is going to be glossy, well-choreographed, and persuasive. But in terms of offering real solutions, it’s unlikely to be very helpful.
There are immediate solutions to the problem of high drug prices. The most obvious one is for manufacturers to reduce the cost of prescription drugs. Given their past actions, this is does not seem likely. So the best solution is to give Americans more options when shopping for their prescription drugs. Personal importation of prescription drugs from Canada is the quickest and most effective way to make safe and affordable medications available for all Americans. Multiple bills have been introduced in Congress to permit this and both major presidential candidates support it. It’s time to get this done.