Earlier this month 33 members of Congress sent a letter to President Obama asking him to use executive authority to tackle the crisis of high drug prices in the U.S. The gist of the letter is that Congress is paralyzed (surprise surprise) to act. So, while we wait, and wait, and wait for Congress — the urgency of high drug prices calls for executive action.
One of the steps recommended is to expressly permit Americans to import lower cost medications for personal use. Well, Americans already do that and while its technically illegal, people aren’t prosecuted for doing so, and thus it’s generally permitted. But if it was expressly permitted it would remove the stigma of illegality, embolden many more consumers to import lower cost medication, deflate and defang the scare tactics of the pharmaceutical industry about importation and online pharmacies, and would instill more price competition into the U.S. market to bring down prices at local pharmacies.
A few questions. Don’t we need to pass a new law to “legalize” importation? Why do I choose to bold the phrase expressly permit? Would it be legal or expressly permitted? Maybe both? (more…)
Tagged with: bayh-dole, Congressional progressive caucus, march in rights, pay for delay
What Americans think about drug prices…
A new poll by Kaiser Family Foundation found that 44 million Americans find it difficult to afford medication. Also, 77% of Americans believe drug prices are unreasonable, up from 72% last year. On the other hand, most Americans did not have trouble affording their medications. Of the 55% of Americans who take medication, 73% say they can afford them, 26% say that its’ difficult. (I’m not sure why that doesn’t round to 100%).
Overwhelming majorities of Americans support policies, legislative reforms in most cases, to bring down prescription drug prices and have access lower cost medications from Canada. The most popular policy would be forcing pharmaceutical companies to be transparent about their pricing of medication. The next two most favored policies are allowing Medicare to negotiate drug prices and expanding personal importation of lower cost medication from Canada.
The Kaiser Poll was a nationally representative random survey of 1204 adults living in the U.S. Public and voter opinions on drug prices are just one part of the survey, albeit the main one: but the poll also covers voter opinions and data about health insurance generally, Obamacare, premiums, and deductibles.
The Kaiser Poll has very interesting political analyses relating to how a person will vote in the upcoming presidential election and the candidates’ positions on prescription drug costs and other healthcare issues. If interested, the positions of Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump are summed up on the blog of Prescription Justice. Both Clinton and Trump support expanding access to lower cost imported medications through personal importation, but Clinton has a much more ambitious plan, which is very much congruous with public opinion among Democratic and Republican voters.
Tagged with: Kaiser, poll
To affordable medication!
It’s a well-known fact that the pharmaceutical industry has the greatest lobbying prowess of any industry in America. That power enables them to drive law and policy here at home – including the creation and maintenance of laws that make it technically illegal to import lower cost medications from Canada and other countries. Such is the nature of political power in the United States. But things are different in the virtual world.
Big pharma is trying to have that same sway over the Internet in order to stop people from buying lower cost medications online – and they are having successes. But the Internet community and the access to medicines activists can team up to defeat them. In an article I published on Circle ID this week, I identify for the Internet community what it means to protect online access to safe and affordable medication.
Essentially, I propose that rules applied to medicine sales on the Internet should reflect the highest aspirations of human rights law, which hold that access to affordable medications are a human right. Under this perspective, companies, such as registries, registrars, online payment processors, and others, that control “access” to the Internet, should do everything they can to make sure Internet users have the widest possible online access to purchase medication they can afford. Who wouldn’t want that?
Talking to the New York Times!
Last week the New York Times published my Letter to the Editor in response to an article about Mylan’s despicable increase of the life-saving drug Epipen, which saves people from serious allergic reactions. In “An Outcry Over the Price of Epipen,” my Letter’s focus is really on Congress and the need for them to actually do something besides talk. I note that personal drug importation, which is already happening, should not just be tolerated as a technically illegal behavior for which patients are never prosecuted but encouraged using proper guidance so that people can afford the prescriptions they need.
The other Letters provide excellent contributions to the policy debate. Caroline Poplin, who is a doctor, lawyer and healthcare analyst (wow!), criticizes drug companies for their abuse of our patent laws and federal regulations that allow them to maximize profits over patients. She believes that where the market is producing “bad results” government ought to provide remedies.
Sarah fink writes that due to the price of Epipen, her serious allergic reaction forced the plane she was on to land! Here we learn that airlines started cutting back on keeping Epipens on places due to the price. This was my favorite Letter.
Again, check it out here.
Tagged with: EpiPen, letter, mylan, nytimes
Want Lower Cost Medication
One week ago, the CEO and founder of PharmacyChecker.com, Tod Cooperman, and RxRights leader Lee Graczyk, published an op-ed in The Hill’s Congress Blog, entitled: “The candidates agree: Legalize personal imports of prescription drugs.” In a nutshell, as the title makes clear, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump both support making it expressly legal to import prescription medication for personal use. This issue is sometimes one of life and death as the media spotlight on Mylan’s drug price spike of Epipen last week makes clear. You might be thinking, “Well, no one gets busted for importing personal prescription orders now so what’s the big deal?” It’s a huge deal.
Currently, about four million Americans import medication for personal use due to cost. But there are more Americans who need to in order to get the medications prescribed to them. If it were technically legal, millions more Americans would buy lower cost medication from Canada and other countries. How many? (more…)
Tagged with: clinton, cooperman, graczyk, RxRights, the hill, trump
Bring it on!
As noted on the top of this web page, this blog is about “Helping Americans Get the Truth About Prescription Savings”. From time to time, I’m afforded the honor of spreading the truth farther and wider than our blog, including this week in Morning Consult, an online journal covering the intersection of politics, policy and business. In “Americans Deserve the Truth about Lower Cost Prescriptions,” I articulate the simple reality that millions of Americans import lower cost and safe medication and that they have done so for 15 years when buying from the safest international online pharmacies, despite federal restrictions.
Against consumers is the multinational pharmaceutical industry, which, in protection of its profits, spends a good deal of time and money scaring Americans into not buying lower cost medication on the grounds that they are likely to get a fake or substandard drug. To them the Internet presents mostly dangers when it comes to buying affordable medication. They refer to safe international online pharmacies as “rogue” or “fake” – and that scares people.
Remember, we’re dealing with a crisis of high drug prices in America and there are safe international online pharmacies that provide immediate relief while we work out longer term solutions. The flip side of the Big Pharma narrative about “rogue online pharmacies” is plain to see as the truth for those who take the time to look. The role of the Internet in making it possible for a consumer to obtain an essential medication in another country that is not affordable locally should have us all talking about how to encourage online access to safe and affordable medication.
Tagged with: lower cost medication, morning consult, truth