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Explaining Rep. Pelosi’s F Grade on Drug Prices

Originally published on PrescriptionJustice.org

Prescription Justice has graded all members of Congress in a drug prices report card. Some people are dismayed that Speaker Nancy Pelosi received an F. After all, didn’t she roll-out and shepherd H.R. 3, the Elijah Cummings Lower Drug Costs Now Act, through the House and vociferously called for its passage on the House floor, as read on the Speaker’s website. So, what happened to her grade? A lot of Rep. Pelosi’s F has to do with her role as Speaker and how it differs from all other legislators.

I admire Speaker Pelosi for many – even most – positions she’s taken and advanced throughout her career – including her work to pass H.R. 3. Not surprisingly, I’m a Democrat! But that cannot change the math of our system of grading.  

Due to the methodology and quantitative factors used to create the report card, even a vocal advocate like Rep. Pelosi, can get an F. You see Prescription Justice grades objectively on the following factors: 1) votes; 2) bill sponsorships/co-sponsorships, 3) campaign contributions from drug companies; and 3) policy positions articulated on member’s websites.

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Valisure Supports Drug Importation

Valisure is a U.S. online pharmacy that actually tests the quality of medication it sends to patients and apparently, to my delight, they support drug importation as a policy to lower costs. Pretty cool.

When people go online or to their local Walgreens to buy prescription drugs domestically, they are largely relying on the regulatory strength of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to make sure those drugs will work as directed by their prescribers. While the FDA is known as a top drug regulator, for all intents and purposes, Valisure is saying that you can’t fully trust them. Why? Because they don’t do adequate testing to prove safety and effectiveness of drugs. Furthermore, the agency’s position that FDA-approved generic drugs work just as well as the brand is often not true.

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Prescription Drug Importation is ‘Most Favored Nation’…

I can’t stop thinking about Trump’s so-called “Most Favored Nation” executive order on drug prices. I know that’s kind of sad considering I’m on vacation.

Keeping it short, when Trump announced his four executive orders on drug prices at the end of July, one of them seemed to be touted as the nuclear option. Spewing the rhetoric Americans want to hear about how he is standing up to Big Pharma, Trump announced that they would get the lowest price on drugs in Medicare:

“We will determine what other medically advanced nations pay for the most expensive drugs, and instead of paying the highest price, Medicare will pay the lowest price and so will lots of other U.S. buyers.”

Somewhere along the line, that order, which oddly was the only one of four that was not made public, was referred to as Most Favored Nation (MFN). MFN is one of the core concepts of international trade agreements. It means that countries party to the agreement get the same low tariffs and other benefits as the others: better terms than those who are not party to the agreement.

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