Chronic illness is difficult to deal with, and it is important to make sure drugs for chronic conditions are affordable for people who need them. A recent survey by the Kaiser Family Foundation found that more than three-quarters of Americans believe that prescription drug costs are unreasonable. Another Kaiser survey found that one-fourth of people who take prescription drugs are having trouble affording their medication, and nearly 10 percent admit to delaying or foregoing prescription drugs due to cost.
Americans who rely on prescription drugs can expect no help from the Trump administration. In fact, after meeting with big pharma execs and lobbyists in January, President Trump backed off a pledge to enable Medicare to negotiate bulk discounts in prescription drug prices, instead opting for lower taxes and fewer regulations to somehow magically lower prices. This flip-flop is hardly surprising, given the power of big pharm lobbyists in Washington. The top three recipients of funds awarded by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) are drug companies: #1 Merck ($811,944,624), #2 Pfizer ($502,359,743), #3 GlaxoSmithKline ($368,400,268). The total is about $1.7 billion! In addition, HHS Secretary Tom Price opposes price negotiations with big pharma. Not coincidentally, he took $165,000 in campaign contributions from companies and individuals in the pharmaceuticals industry last year.
To help lower the skyrocketing costs of drugs, Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt), Cory Booker (D-NJ), and Bob Casey (D-Penn), and Reps. Elijah Cummings (D-Md) and Lloyd Doggett (D-Texas) have introduced companion bills in the Senate and House to allow U.S. citizens to buy safe, low-cost drugs from Canada and other countries. The Affordable and Safe Prescription Drug Importation Act (S 469, HR 1245) directs the HHS secretary to begin allowing the importation of affordable and safe drugs from Canada and other countries by wholesale distributors, pharmacies, and individuals within two years. “In Canada and other major countries, the same medications, manufactured by the same companies, in the same factories are available for a fraction of the price compared to the United States. In 2014, Americans spent $1,112 per person on prescription drugs while Canadians spent $772 and Danes spent $325. While five major drug manufacturers made more than $50 billion in profits in 2015, nearly 1 in 5 American adults could not afford the medicine they were prescribed,” the lawmakers explained in a press release.
Ready to ACT? Call or write: House Energy and Commerce Committee Chair Greg Walden (R-Ore.), House Health Subcommittee Chair Joseph Pitts (R-Pa.), and Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee Chair Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) to push the committee to take up the two bills.