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Eli Lilly’s and Alex Azar’s Position on Importation is a Canard

Alex AzarThis week, President Trump potentially handed Big Pharma one of its greatest victories by appointing Alex Azar the new Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS). Why? Until earlier this year, Alex Azar was the president of Eli Lilly USA and few people (companies are people?) on earth personify Big Pharma like Eli Lilly.

This matters to Americans who import lower cost medication to fill prescriptions because the FDA is an agency housed in HHS, and HHS has a lot of statutory power when it comes to importation of prescription drugs.

President Trump campaigned on making it legal for Americans to buy lower-cost medications from other countries, but Eli Lilly and Alex Azar are leading opponents of safe importation. In fact, Eli Lilly is perhaps the leader when it comes to hatching, or funding, strategic communications and lobbying campaigns to stop Americans from using safe, international online pharmacies. Its efforts through the non-profit group, Alliance for Safe Online Pharmacies—FUNDED BY ELI LILLY—have been frighteningly successful at fooling our elected officials and the public that international online pharmacies are inherently bad for Americans. They do so by conflating counterfeit drugs and even fentanyl abuse with safe international online pharmacies. As I see it, Eli Lilly’s narrative on online pharmacy and importation incorporates the most sinister aspects of fake news. Really. (more…)

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President Trump, Use Your Executive Authority on Drug Prices

Yesterday, for a second time, President Trump said drug companies are getting away with murder. This time Trump talked about how much lower drug prices are in other countries:

“If you look at the same exact drug, by the same exact company…sold someplace else, sometimes it’s a fraction of what we pay in this country…We want to bring our prices down to what other countries are paying. I don’t mean [Americans] are paying 2% more. I mean they are paying double, triple, quadruple…”

Using executive authority under current law to expand access to lower-cost imported medications, President Trump could do something about it immediately. The guy is no stranger to executive authority! Currently, he’s using executive authority to put Obamacare out of business, measures which, in case you were wondering, I strongly oppose. Those moves will make people lose their health insurance and are opposed by over half my fellow Americans.

In contrast, if President Trump used his executive authority on drug prices, he would get an overwhelming chorus of support from the Left, Middle, Right and every which way around.

So how does this go down?

Under current law, the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services, an executive branch agency, can “by regulation or on a case-by-case basis…permit individuals” to import medication if “the importation is clearly for personal use…and the prescription drug or device imported does not appear to present an unreasonable risk to the individual.”

What are you waiting for, boss? See the report by Prescription Justice on using executive authority to allow safe personal drug importation from international online pharmacies.

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Public Opinion on Drug Prices, Importation and Online Pharmacies

consumers and drug prices

Will drug price angst unite America?

The executive director of Prescription Justice, Jodi Dart, published an op-ed in Morning Consult earlier this week called The Rx Rip-Off. The piece does contain Ms. Dart’s opinions but there are also some facts reported, ones based on a Zogby poll on drug prices commissioned by Prescription Justice. The poll shows that 90% of Americans are united on the need for the government to take action to make medication more affordable! As an incredible coincidence, President Trump tweeted just hours after the op-ed was published that “Pricing for the American people will come way down!

There’s a lot in this poll that I look forward to writing about but let’s consider some of the broad findings of the poll:

  • 75.5% of Americans agree with President Trump that the “drug companies are getting away with murder:
  • 29.6% of Americans say they have not filled a prescription because of cost.
  • 4.2% say they currently get prescription medication from a Canadian or other international online pharmacy.
  • 77% of respondents who had an opinion on the issue of importation laws (522 out of 674) supported reforms so that consumers could lawfully purchase medicines from Canada or other countries.
  • Only 15% of respondents were actually against legalizing personal drug importation (23% of those who had an opinion).

Source: Zogby Analytics, margin of error +/- 3.1%: http://prescriptionjustice.org/Prescription_Justice_Zogby_Poll_Data_Feb_2017.pdf.

(more…)

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