Lawmakers push for transparency in prescription drug pricing
WASHINGTON, D.C. - Transparency isn’t something you automatically associate with politics. But Congressman Tom Reed (R-N.Y.) is hoping it will soon be a reality when it comes to your prescription drugs.
The average brand-name drug costs eighteen-times more than a generic drug; in some cases, jumping hundreds of dollars every year, according to a report from AARP’s Public Policy Institute.
“Thirty-thousand dollars,” said U.S. Rep. Anthony Brindisi (D-N.Y) during a recent news conference on the topic. “That is what a woman told me at a recent roundtable I held on prescription drug costs for her cancer medication.”
Reed’s Problem Solvers Caucus and the Senate’s Common Sense Coalition are pushing a new set of principles and guidelines to cut those prices focusing on transparency, competition and affordability.
“We can find a solution here that doesn’t mean government come in and mandate,” Reed said. “What we need to do is unleash the market and the power of people and doctors.”
That also means holding the pharmaceutical companies in check, Reed noted. Not only to disclose the price, but in some cases to explain why prices are set so high; and to reform patent transparency standards that help new drugs come to market as soon as possible.
“We’re paying for these drugs through the Medicare system,” Reed said. “We should be able to ask the question, ‘where are the dollars going that are causing these prices to go up five, ten, twenty percent year after year.”
In fact, nearly $1 out of every $5 dollars spent on Medicare comes from prescription drugs. Industry experts say the spike in costs affects not just patients, but all taxpayers as well.”
“There is not a whole lot of transparency in the drug-pricing world,” according to Leigh Purvis, of the AARP Public Policy Institute. “A lot of it tends to go on ‘trust us,’ which really just isn’t enough when you’re talking about products that affect people’s day-to-day lives.”
Principles and guidelines these bipartisan lawmakers hope will address one of the nation’s most costly problems.