Last month the U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced a no contest grant to be awarded to the National Consumers League (NCL) to examine the problem of prescription adherence. The problem is one we discuss almost every week on this blog: Americans are not taking their prescribed medication. Therefore, when we came across an FDA initiative aimed at tackling the problem we were intrigued.
In the FDA announcement we expected to find mention of some of the known causes for Americans not taking their prescribed medications, such as cost, which has previously been proven as the number one reason Americans skip prescriptions. Amazingly, there was not one mention of drug prices or cost in the announcement. In choosing NCL as the recipient of the $40,000 grant it appeared that FDA might be on the right track After all, NCL knows from its own commissioned study that drug prices are the main reason Americans don’t take their medications. NCL has brought together “stakeholders” from government, non-profit organizations and the private sector. This sounds like a good idea.
Sadly, we believe that the elephant (drug prices) in the fancy conference room will be ignored when NCL stakeholders meet to discuss “understanding the root causes for inadequate medication adherence,” as the FDA describes the agenda. That’s because private sector stakeholders, found on its list of Committed Partners for NCL’s National Medication Adherence Campaign, are overwhelmingly represented by pharmaceutical companies, ones that “sponsor” NCL (meaning contribute money to). Such companies have also spent two billion dollars on lobbying the government and public relations over the past decade to fight against legislation and policies that would bring down drug prices and scaring Americans from getting their medication from Canada and other countries. While the NCL stakeholder list also includes consumer-friendly groups like AARP, a supporter of laws to bring down drug price through drug importation, and a smattering of other groups that may give some voice to the needs of most Americans, the biggest pharmaceutical companies will likely do their utmost to steer the conversation away from the main problem: drug prices.
We’re glad that the FDA is concerned with prescription adherence, after all it doesn’t matter how safe our medications are if people aren’t taking the medication they need. But with the pharmaceutical industry able to shape government-sponsored programs dedicated to prescription adherence, will the heart of the matter really be addressed?Tagged with: AARP, Canada, Drug Prices, FDA, National Consumer's League, National Medication Adherence Campaign, prescription adherence, prescriptions