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Prescription Drug Pricing: Safety of Savings? Why not BOTH?


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By | April 19, 2019

Despite the ever-growing partisan divide, an olive branch extends across both sides of the aisle with the unifying initiative to address prescription drug pricing. While everyday American’s pocketbook peril at their local pharmacy is rarely publicized, the price gouging of the EpiPen and other specialty drugs make national headlines as profit margins soar up to 5,000%. Universally accepted by Republicans and Democrats, something must be done about the prices of pharmaceutical drugs, but, not surprisingly, a tumultuous debate persists on how the public sector should intervene.
Popularized by Bernie Sanders bussing constituents to Canada for cheaper prescription drugs, pharmaceutical companies are selling the same drugs to other countries for a fraction of the price required by American consumers. A proposed solution allows pharmacies to sell drugs produced by trusted nations, including Canada. Trepidation associated with prescription drug importation stems from overly exaggerated dangers of limited Food and Drug Administration (FDA) safety regulation. Currently, a quarter of the drugs labeled as American-made are surprisingly manufactured in plants inspected by the FDA outside of the U.S., contradicting the lack of regulation concerns.
Pharmaceutical companies represent a dominant force in opposition to lowering drug prices for obvious reasons. With millions in lobbying efforts each year, legislators face moral and ethical dilemmas where they must choose to advocate for the companies who fund their campaigns or the best interests of their constituents.
While Democrats appear to lead the charge against the pharmaceutical industry, prominent conservatives, including Ted Cruz, voted for Americans to be able to purchase cheaper prescriptions from Canada. As a part of Trump’s campaign promise to address drug pricing, we are waiting to see if Trump will take action in support of public welfare or enact industry recommendations.
Importation represents only one of the potential resolutions to address the public concern of prescription drug prices. Alternative recommendations include amending the process of approving generics, requiring pricing transparency from drug companies, drug advertisement restrictions, allowing the government to negotiate the prices of Medicare-covered drugs, and amending FDA regulations.
Will Congress and the executive branch allow the American public to be caught in the cross-fire of partisan warfare or enact legislation needed to protect the well-being of their constituents? As long as more headline-worthy news coverage does not continue to overwhelm media outlets, the next steps of our policymakers will begin to shed light on an answer.

Written by:

Abigail Ann Wesson
Texas Tech University
MSW and MPA Candidate 2020
325.665.2229 | abigail.wesson@ttu.edu

Policy Forum hosted by TTU students May 1st at 6 pm in Lanier Auditorium at TTU School of Law

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