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Commentary

The Continuing Rising Drug Prices is Business as Usual


October 22, 2020

cawleyEvery four years I continue to hear politicians promise many things to the public. One issue promised more than anything is the lowering of drug prices. I hear the promise from my local and state politicians, and also from presidential candidates. The promise is made to the American people that maybe “this time” it will happen. It is so sad that we as a public are so gullible to this promise that will probably never happen.

Pharmaceutical companies have logged more than 800 price hikes and adjusted the cost of 42 medications upwards by an average of 3.3% just in July 2020. 1 Especially interesting, are the prices hikes of respiratory medications. Bevespi Aerospheres, Daliresp, and Tyvaso increased their prices by 5-, 6-, and 4.5%, respectively. 1 Based upon the COVID-19 virus, which targets the respiratory system, increasing prices of these medications during this time is especially clever for these companies since they expect to see a surge in prescribing. In addition, drug companies generally raise the prices of their products not once but TWICE a year. 1

Prices continue to rise based upon the millions of dollars spent on pharma lobbyists in Washington. Each pharma company has spent millions to lobby politicians. Of particular note, The Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) the trade group representing branded drug companies spent 6.2 million on lobbying in the third quarter of 2019. 2

This business as usual has to stop. When millions of Americans are unemployed and choosing between buying food vs trying to afford or ration their medications, companies continue to increase prices. I guess profit and greed will continue to take precedent over the welfare of the American people. I am hopeful that one day, this will change.

Michael J. Cawley, PharmD, RRT, CPFT, FCCM, has more than 25 years of experience practicing in the areas of medical, surgical, trauma, and burn intensive care as both a critical care clinical pharmacist and registered respiratory therapist.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Population Health Learning Network. Any content provided by our bloggers or authors are of their opinion and are not intended to malign any religion, ethnic group, club, organization, company, individual or anyone or anything.

References:

  1. Politico. Drug prices steadily rise amid pandemic, data shows. https://www.politico.com/news/2020/07/07/drug-prices-coronavirus-351729.  Accessed September 21, 2020.
  2. The Hill. Drug companies spend millions on lobbying as congress tries to rein in high drug prices. https://thehill.com/policy/healthcare/466980-drug-companies-spend-millions-on-lobbying-as-congress-tries-to-reign-in . Accessed September 21, 2020.

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