Bill: H.R. 1245 and S 469– Affordable and Safe Prescription Drug Importation Act
Federal Legislature – House & Senate
Sponsor: Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD) (House), Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) (Senate)
Where is it now? House Committee on Energy and Commerce
Stake holders: All residents of our 50 states who hold a valid prescription.
Why do we care? The top three recipients of funds awarded by the federal government through the Department of Health and Human Services are drug companies: #1 Merck ($811,944,624.), #2 Pfizer ($502,359,743.), #3 GlaxoSmithKline ($368,400,268) Total is about $1.7 billion! In addition, Tom Price, Secretary of Health and Human Services, opposes price negotiations with big pharmaceutical companies. He is under the influence of pharmaceutical lobbyists who received $244,095,383 in 2016 alone. (https://www.opensecrets.org/)
Illness is difficult to deal with and it is important to make sure high cost drugs for chronic conditions are affordable for people who need them. This bill aims to allow competition from foreign drug sellers to give us access to better and cheaper life-saving drugs.
In a 2015 health care poll, The Kaiser Family Foundation reported that 76% of Americans chose reducing the cost of drugs for the chronically ill as their top priority. The second most popular choice was government action to lower prescription drug prices.
How does it meet our stated objective? ACA continues to offer affordable health care to all who need it. President #45 put it out to the Democrats that he would need their help to fix it since AHCA was pulled before it could go to a vote. We never know the truth of his statements but if our elected officials get behind this bill, there would be more competition among drug companies and prescriptions could become more affordable for all and the big pharmaceutical companies could be forced to stop price fixing.
Local Impact: The cost of living on Cape Cod runs as high as 54% above the national average as reported by the Barnstable County Department of Human Services.
Cape Cod has a large elderly population living on pensions and social security. The high cost of prescriptions lowers their standard of living and makes them sicker if they can’t afford the drugs they need.
A 2013 report found 19,538 people on Cape Cod live at or below the federal poverty level. Many young families must rely on assistance and subsidies to receive medical prescriptions.
Possible Action: Continue to track this bill. Call your local representatives to support the bill. Call Tom Price at the Department of Health and Human Services: Phone Number: 202-690-7000
http://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2017/1/31/14453740/trump-medicare-prescription-drugs “New drugs are generally covered by patent monopolies, so drug companies have a lot of pricing power; other companies can’t produce the same drug without paying royalties, so there’s little competition. But most countries use their nationalized health care systems to negotiate a good deal on drug prices. Manufacturing pills is cheap, so it’s usually still profitable for a company to sell medicine at a pretty steep discount.”
http://time.com/money/4462919/prescription-drug-prices-too-high/Five Reasons Prescription Drugs are So High in the U.S. (August 23, 2016)
- Drug manufacturers in the U.S. set their own prices, and that’s not the norm elsewhere in the world.
- We allow “government-protected monopolies” for certain drugs, preventing generics from coming to market to reduce prices.
- The FDA takes a long time to approve generic drugs.
- Sometimes, state laws and other “well-intentioned” federal policies limit generics’ abilities to keep costs down.
- Drug prices aren’t really justified by Research &Development.
https://www.usaspending.gov USA spending.gov is the publicly accessible, searchable website mandated by the Federal Funding Accountability and Transparency Act of 2006 to give the American public access to information on how their tax dollars are spent.