Prescription drug prices are already excessively high, and they are continuing to rise at an astronomical rate. The United States has some of the most expensive prescription medications in the world, and their average annual spending is significantly higher than Europe or Canada. These medication are required for survival, but patients are being forced to choose between paying for their prescriptions and having enough money to eat.
This problem is widespread, but there are a few people who are fighting for a solution. An oncologist issued his attack in June at a medical conference sponsored by the pharmaceutical industry. He rebuked the industry for nearly doubling the monthly cost of cancer drugs in the past decade. Even among Americans with health insurance, those who have cancer are twice as likely to go bankrupt due to suffocating medical costs than Americans without cancer.
Drug addiction is also a growing concern. Naloxone is used to treat overdoses, and it has saved many lives. Since the need for this drug has grown, Amphaster Pharmacuticals viewed that as an opportunity to raise the cost by $1,100 in which Sen Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) questioned. Generic drugs are frequently considered a cheaper alternative, but those prices have increased by 1,000%.
This problem is already overwhelming, and it will continue to grow until the pharmaceutical industry is forced to stop. This is where Bernie Sanders comes in. In 1999, Sanders was the first congressman to bring cheaper prescription drug prices to senior citizens by leading them across the Canadian border. His interest in fighting for fair drug prices did not stop there. He is now a 2016 presidential candidate, and he has made this one of his central campaign issues. As a current Vermont senator, Bernie Sanders is introducing a bill that will aid the government in regulating prescription costs.
If his bill passes, Medicare and pharmaceutical companies would be able to negotiate over prescription drug prices and private citizens would be able to legally import cheaper medications from Canada. Additionally, “government-backed monopolies” on individual drugs could be canceled if the company was found guilty of fraud in the manufacturing or selling process. Pharmaceutical companies would be required to report developmental and research costs, and they would no longer be allowed to prevent their competitors from developing substantially cheaper generic medications by paying them off.
Sanders believes “Congress should uncouple research and development costs from drug prices by rewarding innovation with a prize.” He is not alone in this idea. Economists Dean Baker and Joseph Stiglitz agree and have suggested the that the U.S. government buy the patents so that generics can become immediately available.
So far, Sanders’ bill has a strong backing. Ninety-three percent of democrats and seventy-three percent of republicans agree with Sander’s proposal that the government should enter into negotiations with the drug companies. Hillary Clinton (also a democratic candidate for presidency) has voiced support for lowering drug prices as well, but like republican presidential candidates she has not proposed a specific plan.
Sanders also wrote an article for Huffington Post explaining his concerns with the current lack of drug pricing regulations and detailing his plans to improve them.