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Amazon’s Pharmacy Should Support Importation to Offer Lower Drug Prices

Originally published on LinkedIn.

With drug prices in the spotlight of our national healthcare debate, one could certainly view Amazon’s entry last year into the pharmacy space as a welcome development. After all, when it comes to upending traditional business models by undercutting their prices, Amazon is king. For Americans, the tens of millions who don’t fill prescriptions each year because of cost, relief can’t come soon enough. For Amazon to succeed, Jeff Bezos should consider teaming up with Senator Bernie Sanders. Amazon’s support for The Affordable and Safe Prescription Drug Importation Act, introduced by Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT)—to allow for the importation of lower-cost prescription drugs—would be the game changer that would have American patients cheering and the pharmaceutical industry crying.

Recent bi-partisan efforts to bring lower-cost generic drugs to market faster are a great step in the right direction, but they don’t infuse our captive pharmaceutical marketplace with competition to lower prices on patented – brand name – prescription drugs. Importation would fuel that competition. An unlikely alliance between our country’s most successful capitalist and trailblazing, Democratic Socialist is what we need!

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Safe or Affordable Healthcare? Consumers Don’t Have to Choose

Affordable SafetyIf you have been watching the news, you’ve likely heard the current administration’s support for affordable healthcare, lower prescription drugs costs, and less red tape around the FDA’s drug approval process. These platform statements are powerful to a country where prescription drug costs are significant. In fact, according to an AARP report from 2015, the price of prescriptions per household amount to more than the average family’s income per year. To many eager constituents, these campaign promises create the illusion of a future of financial stability and an adequate, cost-effective healthcare system that treats people as patients instead of dollar signs. Before we pop the champagne, we need to look at both the current system we are proposing to fix and the actions that the government has already taken against these its original statements.

The Trump administration points the finger at the FDA’s current drug approval process as a major cause for high drug prices. Critics of the existing approval process believe it to be slow, full of unnecessary procedures, and a hindrance to the approval of potentially life-saving drugs. Notice, I said potentially. (more…)

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Medication Safety is a Weak Argument Against Allowing Personal Prescription Importation

In this blog post I’m going to get personal. Not about me but about importing medication from Canada and other countries. You’ll see what I mean. Last week, Senator Bernie Sanders introduced an amendment to the budget bill, which would have paved the way for future deficit neutral spending to implement new regulations expanding lawful access to lower cost imported medication from wholesalers, pharmacies and individuals. Unfortunately, the amendment was defeated 52-46.

Let’s forget about the fact that drug companies give members of Congress lots of money. OK, I can’t forget: it’s about two billion dollars over the last 15 years. Some senators who voted against the amendment cited their concerns with safety as a basis for their vote. Let me explain why they are wrong, at least when it comes to personal vs. wholesale drug importation. (more…)

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