Read the following which is an excerpt from a Bernie Sanders press release. At first glance it appears like a great idea. Who can be against lower drug prices?
The simplistic approach of Sanders is typical politics. The high price of drugs is complex and not simply a reflection of profits which are a combination of price and volume of sales. Hence the high volume of prescription advertising.
Drug prices are lower outside the US in part because outside the US they fix drug prices and they are more selective on what drugs will be paid for. Americans want the best and latest and greatest and lots of it. Americans are subsidizing a lot of the research and development enjoyed by the rest of the world. Part of the problem is the long approval process for a drug through the FDA where it can take twice as long as in Europe. Check out this comparison of processes.
Medicare negotiates drug prices for its population using the most drugs, Medicare spending goes down … and everyone else’s costs go up. In theory at least virtually all Americans are protected by health insurance which includes prescription drugs so out-of-pocket costs are limited. Even Medicare limits out-of-pocket costs in a year to about $4700 for all but the very few extremely high utilizers.
Yes, we need to look at many aspects of our use, cost, payment and approval and marketing of prescription drugs. However, waiving the magic liberal regulatory wand doesn’t help and as usual these champions of truth, justice and the American way fail to consider the unintended consequences.
By the way Old Bernie, what other countries do is not automatically what is right for America.
In some ways this reminds me of people who complain about their high electric bills blaming the electric company and ignoring all the devises consuming electricity in their home.
Bernie Sanders- In light of 1,000 percent price increases – and more – American families are fed up with trying to afford their medications as they watch drug companies rake in record profits,” Ranking Member Cummings said. “This commonsense and comprehensive bill will reverse this alarming trend, help put people before profits, and make lifesaving drugs more affordable and accessible to millions of Americans families.”
The Prescription Drug Affordability Act of 2015 authorizes the Secretary of Health and Human Services to negotiate drug prices with pharmaceutical companies to bring down costs for Medicare drug benefits. The bill also includes tougher penalties for drug companies that commit fraud and bans the practice of brand name drugmakers paying competitors to keep lower-priced generic substitutes off the market. The bill also lowers barriers to the importation of lower-cost drugs from Canada.
“We should use our buying power to get better deals for the American people. Other countries do it and so should we,” Sanders said.
And in the final analysis we have this. What do you think is going to happen to drug utilization (and spending) when these findings become widely accepted and implemented? Even given that many generics are available for blood pressure, consider the opportunity for new drugs. Think beyond the rhetoric. Also, does spending on prescription drugs avoid even higher spending on the conditions they treat? Does anyone really know?
In a finding that may up-end conventional wisdom about treating hypertension, scientists with the National Institutes of Health said that aggressive reduction of blood pressure to levels under current targets can significantly reduce rates of cardiovascular disease and death in hypertension patients.
Using medication to lower systolic blood pressure to less than 120 reduced the risk of heart attack and stroke by almost a third, and death by almost a quarter, compared with lowering it to a commonly recommended target of less than 140, the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute said Friday.
The group aiming for systolic pressure of less than 140 received an average of two different blood pressure medications. The more aggressive, 120 target group received an average of three medications.
Excerpt WSJ article 9-12-15