Remember the “Pharma Bro?”
In August of last year, Martin Shkreli was the CEO of Turing Pharmacauticals. Under his command, Turing Pharmacauticals bought the rights to manufacture the drug Daraprim. In one day, Shkreli raised the drug price from $13.50 to $750 per pill–a whopping 5,000 percent.
Concurrently, Valeant Pharmaceuticals International purchased two cardiac-care drugs called Isuprel and Nitropress. The company proceeded to raise drug prices by 525% and 212% respectively.
These moves promptly ignited a media backlash, for the greed of the pharmaceutical companies quickly squashed the benevolence of the drugs the companies manufactured. The “little man” could no longer afford the medications leading to a better quality of life due to the rising drug prices.
Though the media villified the pharmacautical companies, there were no sanctions in a court of law (at least not for price gouging). It was perfectly legal for the drug companies jump on the rising drug prices bandwagon.
It also caused politicians to raise eyebrows.
For one thing, the drug price disparities between certain drugs sold in different countries are staggering. A pill of Daraprim would cost an American $750, but someone in India could purchase the same drug for less than 10 cents. Avastin is a drug used to treat various forms of cancer. The Medicare price for the drug is $685 per prescription, but Ontario’s health care system pays $398 for the same prescription.
Why is it that Americans pay such high prices for medications? More importantly, what are our leaders doing to curtail rising drug prices?
One of Bernie’s proposals is to combat rising drug prices is to allow Canadian pharmacies and wholesalers to sell to individuals, pharmacists, and wholesalers in the U.S. This is by far the simplest measure to control rising drug prices. Strangely enough, this is a rare instance where Sanders and Ted Cruz agree.
Ted Cruz and Senator Mike Lee recently sponsored a bill called the RESULT Act. In addition to proposing many reforms to lessen the FDA’s powers, the bill lists “trusted countries“ from which Americans can import drugs. Norway, Poland, Australia, and Canada are all on the trusted countries list.
Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump also see the importation of drugs as a solution to rising drug costs. A briefing on her website clearly states that she is all for allowing Americans to import drugs. She says that regulatory agencies including the FDA will set precise protocol for drug importation.
The Donald is all about bringing in competition to curb rising drug prices–just don’t expect him to allow cheaper drug importation from China or Mexico.
A swift, hurdle-passing drug importation occured to save some Princeton students from Bacterial Meningitis some time ago. If the U.S. devises a safe way to import cheap durgs from other countries, would it be worthwhile to Americans?
A few remaining presidential candidates think so…
Philip Strang is an insurance agent and on-the-side copywriter. He enjoys helping others make sense of the complicated health insurance industry