The heat is rising on the pharmaceutical industry because of high drug prices. The politically and economically middle-of-the-road editors at Bloomberg published an opinion piece this week called “U.S Prescription Drug Costs Are a Crime.” The gist in the article is that policy tweaks are not enough, pointing out that President Trump’s rhetoric on drug prices is much stronger that the reality of his actions. Major changes are needed, such as drug price negotiations in Medicare and making importation of lower-cost medication legal (something one in ten Americans already do, according to Bloomberg).
I love this article, but it doesn’t state clearly why drug prices are a crime. The answer is tens of millions of Americans aren’t filling prescriptions because of them each year. Many get sick and some even die because of them. For some cancer patients, it’s extortion. “Give me the money,” pharma says. “Or die.” Your money or your life.
Still, we all know that a crime is an act that violates laws of a governing authority as proven through due process of those laws. And our laws allow the pharmaceutical industry to charge the prices referred to as a “crime” in Bloomberg.
That said, there is litigation targeting drug companies, pharmacies, and insurance companies/PBMs for violating laws to keep drug prices high. Examples include insulin price fixing, collusion between health insurers and pharmacies, and pharmacy kickbacks to PBMs. However, to an extent not found in Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the United Kingdom, U.S. laws permit—even encourage—increasing drug prices out of reach for patients who need them. Lawful but unjust.
It gets sicker and more unjust: technically, a patient who re-imports a medication from Canada because it’s her only affordable option is subject to jail and fines. No, that’s never happened, but it’s despicable that the law makes it a possibility while drug prices continue to climb.
Justice and law, when it comes to prescription drug prices in America, are fully out of whack.
Tagged with: bloomberg, collusion, crime, drug price negotiation, importation, kickbacks
A bill was introduced in the House of Representatives last week that would make repeat counterfeit drug offenders subject to 20-year maximum jail-terms with $4 million fines for individuals and $10 million if the defendant is an entity. PharmacyChecker.com applauds the introduction of H.R.3468, Counterfeit Drug Penalty Act of 2011, as we believe, if passed, it will act as a deterrent against individuals and businesses who endanger the public health by manufacturing and selling medication that is not subject to government regulations and oversight at best, and deadly at worst.
We also recognize that the bill’s language is clear not to blur the distinction between counterfeit and safe imported medication. The bill states:
Nothing in this Act, or the amendments made by this Act, shall be construed to apply to a drug (as defined in section 201 of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (21 U.S.C. 321)) solely because the drug is manufactured in or imported from a foreign country.
In contrast, the proposed Stop Online Piracy Act and Protect IP Act, now before Congress, defines all personally imported medicine, including genuine medication as a threat to the “public health.” This should be opposed. This language appears based on the lobbying rhetoric of the pharmaceutical industry to confuse lawmakers and consumers into believing the false proposition that all personally imported medicine purchased through online pharmacies is counterfeit. Thus, it’s a positive development that H.R. 3468 is crystal clear about the difference between counterfeit and imported drugs.
Stopping drug counterfeiters, whether they infiltrate the domestic supply chain by selling products to U.S. pharmacies or export dangerous drugs ordered online directly to Americans, protects the public health. The Counterfeit Drug Penalty Act seems to go after the real bad guys while not interfering with access to safe and affordable imported medicine and we hope it passes soon.
Tagged with: 21 U.S.C. 321, amendment, and Cosmetic Act, Congress, Counterfeit Drug Penalty Act of 2011, Counterfeit Drugs, counterfeiters, Drug, Federal Food, foreign, H.R. 3468, House of Representatives, importation, pharmacychecker.com, public health, Stop Online Piracy Act and Protect IP Act, supply chain