Too many people have to make choices between their prescription drugs, gas for the car or food for the family. As a pharmacist, I have seen Kentuckians wait to refill prescriptions long after they ran out of pills because they didn’t have enough money. Medication only works if you take it – a prescription unfilled is worthless.
While each development of a life-saving drug is wonderful, it does no good to have the latest approved drug if it is not affordable – and make no mistake, people with insurance are among those who put off refilling prescriptions because even with coverage, some drugs simply cost too much.
It’s time for Congress to pass legislation that would bring down the cost of prescription drugs. The current system isn’t working and big pharmaceutical companies are calling the shots. While there is no silver bullet, there are bipartisan bills in Congress that can make a real impact to lower drug costs.
The Senate Finance Committee has approved legislation with broad bipartisan support, the “CREATES Act.” It would outlaw anti-competitive tactics used by pharmaceutical companies to block the development of more affordable generic and biosimilar medicines. The Congressional Budget Office estimates this would lower federal spending on prescription drugs by $3.9 billion, and the savings to patients, employers and the health care system overall would be far greater. This bill would be a good first step toward fixing the problem.
President Donald Trump has made lower prescription drug costs one of his top priorities and even called on policymakers to give Medicare the ability to negotiate drug prices for seniors. With bipartisan bills in Congress, a president calling for reform and several innovative policy initiatives ready to go that will reduce costs for consumers, there will never be a better time to act.
— Editor's note: Sheldon is a pharmacist and Republican state representative.