The prescription drug pricing system in the U.S. is rigged against patients. We are fighting to change that.
Prescription drug prices are out of control. The drug corporations have literally rigged the system to have monopoly pricing power—spending billions to get the laws and regulations that benefit them. They’ve spent $2 billion on lobbying in Washington since 2003.
The cornerstone of their pricing power is a law that says Medicare can’t bargain on prices. Instead, the drug corporations dictate the price to Medicare. Once the price is set for Medicare it ripples down the whole health care system, and lots of people get a piece of the action. Pharmacy Benefit Managers who run prescription drug insurance programs make more working off the higher initial price. Hospitals and doctors get percentage mark-ups. But the rest of us—patients, consumers and taxpayers—get stuck paying the bill.
The costs can be crushing for patients. Out-of-pocket costs for some specialty drugs under Medicare can run from $4,000 to more than $11,000 per year, while the median income for Medicare beneficiaries is less than $26,200 a year.
Whether it’s expensive new specialty drugs or the insanity of doubling or tripling prices for old brand name drugs, it’s an outrage and we can stop it.
Patients skip taking their drugs or ration their medications in order to delay the cost of renewing their prescriptions. As a result, they suffer complications of their chronic conditions, a lower quality of life and greater medical expenses in the long run. Their negotiating power could save significant amounts for the system as a whole as well as for our patients.John Meigs, Jr., MD, President, American Academy of Family Physicians
We have to break the monopoly pricing power of the drug corporations. We must change the laws to restore competitive pricing and speed generics to market. Prices for drugs should be based on the value they provide to patients. And we need transparency on pricing from the drug companies and the pharmacy benefit insurers so we can see who is making how much off of the suffering of people fighting deadly diseases.
Drug companies can still make plenty of money to fund research and development on new drugs and pay their shareholders a healthy return. They just won’t be able to dictate the prices anymore.
Patients For Affordable Drugs is the only independent national patient organization focused exclusively on achieving policy changes to lower the price of prescription drugs. A non-profit organization, it was founded and is partly funded by David Mitchell, a patient who is completely reliant on expensive drugs to fight an incurable blood cancer, and his wife, Nicole Mitchell, a breast cancer survivor. Patients For Affordable Drugs does not accept contributions from any organizations that profit from the development or distribution of prescription drugs.
What will we do?
- Patients For Affordable Drugs will stand up to drug corporations and pharmacy benefit insurance companies to demand actions that will lower the prices of prescription drugs.
- Patients For Affordable Drugs will collect patient stories and amplify the voices of patients to make policymakers understand the heavy toll of high priced drugs.
- Patients For Affordable Drugs will educate, activate and mobilize patients in support of policy changes at the federal and state levels that can lower the prices of prescription drugs.
- Patients For Affordable Drugs works on the fundamental notion that we can have innovation and new drugs at reasonable prices. There’s plenty of money in the system to do both.
The carte blanche approach to drug pricing needs to change to align with the health system’s drive for high-quality care based on value.President Andrew W. Gurman, MD, American Medical Association