Two years ago, ABC News ran a segment (What Would You Do?) that showed Americans going out of their way to help strangers who could not afford their medication. Actors visited local pharmacies pretending they could not afford to pay for their much-needed prescription drugs – something that happens frequently in the U.S. Some people offered to help pay for part or all of the drug orders, and one man even left the pharmacy to get money from an ATM. In addition to financial assistance, these individuals also offered words of solidarity against the outrageous costs. Karen Wenberg (real person) told the woman (actress) she was helping: “Don’t be embarrassed. You know what? Medication is so f***ing expensive. There is no reason to be embarrassed… Sometimes we just pass on the good that’s been given to us.”
As we write this, Congress is marking up a new law, Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA), one supported by the Obama administration that could effectively block Americans from acquiring safe and affordable medication from online pharmacies outside the U.S. As the government seeks to rein in spending, why do they want to stop consumers from getting non-tax-payer funded, affordable medication? When people go without medication, they can become sick or get sicker, putting a great burden on the health care system. To see what the government is doing, read RxRight.org’s guest post on techdirt. (more…)
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The simple answer is that tens of millions of Americans cannot afford prescription drugs here in the United States because they’re too expensive. Meanwhile, drug prices outside the U.S. are much lower – often 80% lower. Americans skipping or not taking prescription drugs is a national emergency largely going ignored in our healthcare debate.
Here are the facts about Americans skipping medication due to drug prices:
1. 25 million Americans did not take prescribed medication in 2009 due to cost, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. From 1997 to 2009, the percentage of Americans not taking their medications due to cost nearly doubled increasing from 4.8 to 8.4%.
Source: National Center for Health Statistics 2011. http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/hus/hus10.pdf#highlights
2. 48 million Americans ages 19-64 did not fill a prescription due to cost in 2010, according to the Commonwealth Fund – a 66% increase since 2001.
Source: The Commonwealth Fund 2010 Biennial Health Insurance Survey, http://www.commonwealthfund.org/Surveys/2011/Mar/2010-Biennial-Health-Insurance-Survey.aspx.
3. 3.4 million Medicare enrollees stop taking their medication due to the coverage gap.
Source: Polinski JM, Shrank WH, Huskamp HA, Glynn RJ, Liberman JN, et al. 2011 Changes in Drug Utilization during a Gap in Insurance Coverage: An Examination of the Medicare Part D Coverage Gap. PLoS Medicine.
4. Prescription non-adherence adds $290 billion to America’s healthcare costs.
Source: U.S. Food and Drug Administration. 76 FR 12969. March 2011. http://www.federalregister.gov/articles/2011/03/09/2011-5287/campaign-to-improve-poor-medication-adherence-u18.
Access our RxSOS fact sheet here.
Tagged with: Commonwealth Fund, coverage gap, Drug Prices, FDA, FDA warnings, healthcare, international pharmacies, Medicare, National Center for Health Statistics, PLoS, prescription non-adherence, prescriptions, Public Library of Science, safety, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, U.S. Food and Drug Administration, United States
This week in China, the National Development and Reform Commission put dramatic retail drug price cuts into effect. To lower prices, hospitals and clinics are now required to cap the costs for over 1,200 antibiotics and circulatory system drugs, according to Reuters. The 21% average decrease means $1.53 billion savings for Chinese patients – which is good news for them, but what does this mean for Americans?
While many of our drugs or drug ingredients are already manufactured in China, these price cuts won’t reduce the price of those drugs sold in the U.S. What could happen is the opposite. Lower prices in China may further drive increases in U.S. drug prices as drug companies look to the U.S. market to make up for lower margins in China. The U.S. is the only large market in which drug companies can arbitrarily increase their prices. (more…)
Tagged with: China, consumer guide, drug cuts, Drug Prices, healthcare, How to Save Money on Prescription Drugs, National Development and Reform Commission, price controls, retail, United States