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Top 60 U.S. Brand Name Drug Prices are 75% Lower Internationally, According to Rand Corporation Study

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The Rand Corporation has released an impressive study showing that brand name drugs cost far more in the United States than in other countries – on average 344% more. For those of you looking for a methodologically strong analysis of international drug prices and a history of related studies, this is the report for you. In looking at all drugs, brand and generic, the percentage goes down to 256%. That’s because, as the report shows, generic drugs in the U.S. were found to be priced at 86% of those in other countries. The report was based on drug prices from 2018.

The report’s title is very descriptive of its contents: “International Prescription Drug Price Comparisons: Current Empirical Estimates and Comparisons with Previous Studies”

Explaining the report’s approach in the simplest terms: it accomplishes its main objectives by creating price indices for 32 member countries of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) and comparing them for all drugs, brand name and generic. That’s the report’s main focus. It has additional results for other categories, notably biologic drugs and the top 60 drugs in terms of sales. For biologics, which are generally the most expensive prescription products, U.S. prices are on average 295% the international price. For the top 60 drugs by sales, U.S prices are on average 394% higher.


My Quick and Dirty Take on Trump’s Drug Price Efforts

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I’m a Democrat and voting for Joe Biden. It’s good to be honest. Biden supporters may view my blog post more favorably, while Trump supporters might be more skeptical. I can live with that. You can all fact check me. But ask yourselves: “have my prescription drug costs gone down over the past four years”? If you want to respond in the comments, please do so politely. About 25% of Americans, many tens of millions of people, say they have a hard time affording their meds.  As I mention below, we should all get along on this issue. It’s not only critical that we end the madness of high drug prices in America, but let’s unify when we agree!! 

My quick and dirty position point here is that most of Trump’s efforts to lower drug prices have either failed and/or are simply political window dressing to help him get elected. Before my fellow Democrats turn up your noses, just know that Obama promised to take on Big Pharma, too, but he did not. For a positive spin, Trump’s bashing Big Pharma rhetoric may have future political reverberations on the Republican party in favor of real actions to lower drug prices.

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Rep. Schakowsky (D-IL) Gets an A+ on Drug Prices in Congressional Report Card

This post was originally published on Prescription Justice.

The highest score in the Prescription Justice Congressional Report Card on Drug Prices – 100 – goes to Representative Jan Schakowsky (D-IL), with a grade of A+. The only other A+ in the House goes to Rep. Perter Welch (D-VT), who landed a score of 99.5.

In simple terms: Rep. Schakowsky gets the high score because she was incredibly committed, active and vocal about lowering drug prices – and barely takes money from drug companies: just over $1000. If all members of Congress hopped on the drug price lowering bandwagon just like Rep. Schakowsky, the crisis of high drug prices in America would end.


Hoping Trump’s Florida Drug Importation Politics Helps Patients Under Biden

Well, as I was writing this post about the politics of importation, the FDA published its final rule on drug importation. Find it here: Section 804 Final Rule. It’s 179 pages so I haven’t had time to read it all yet.

As a quick reminder, pursuant to Section 804 of the Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act, the FDA issued a proposed new rule to allow wholesale imports of lower-cost drugs from Canada, subject to many conditions and excluding expensive biologics. Phillip Galewitz of Kaiser Health News asks if this is an “election gift for Florida” reporting that Florida will be the first state granted approval to import by the FDA. This is not surprising. Florida has an exceptionally large number of retired, older Americans who are unhappy about the cost of prescription drugs and 29 electoral college votes that Trump cannot afford to lose.


Explaining Rep. Pelosi’s F Grade on Drug Prices

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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.


Congress, Not Pharma Execs, Are Accountable to Voters on Drug Prices

Congress is on my mind this week. There’s a lot of talk on PharmacyCheckerBlog about Big Pharma doing this and Big Pharma doing that to keep drug prices high in America. Most often, I aim to expose them for outright lying or exaggerating about the risks of buying cheaper meds from foreign countries using online pharmacies. Criticism of the FDA follows a close second, and in large part due to Big Pharma’s outsized influence on the agency. But who could really enact change? Congress!

This week, we at Prescription Justice announced the new Congressional Report Card on Drug Prices. Our team graded all members of Congress on their action and inaction on drug prices. I’m intensely proud of these efforts. If Congress passed laws that led to lower drug prices in the United States, then Americans would not be forced to obtain medication in other countries – at least not to the extent that they have to now. The lifeline of safe international online pharmacies is important, but it should not be in such great demand.