Despite partisan divide, an olive branch extends across both sides of the aisle with the initiative of addressing prescription drug pricing.
While the price gouging of the EpiPen and other specialty drugs make national headlines as profit margins soar up to 5,000 percent, millions of Americans’ pocketbooks are in peril over every day over the average prescription drug prices. Universally accepted as an issue by Republicans and Democrats, something must be done about the prices of pharmaceutical drugs.
Not surprisingly in this political climate, a tumultuous debate persists on how the public sector should intervene.
Sen. Bernie Sanders made headlines highlighting this issue, bussing his constituents to Canada for cheaper prescription drugs where pharmaceutical companies are selling the same drugs to other countries for a fraction of the price Americans pay.
A proposed solution has been introduced in the Senate which allows pharmacies to sell drugs produced by trusted nations, including Canada. But fear associated with prescription drug importation stemming from over exaggerated dangers of limited Food and Drug Administration (FDA) safety regulations often keeps these bills from coming through. Currently a quarter of the drugs labeled as American-made are surprisingly manufactured in plants inspected by the FDA outside of the U.S., contradicting the lack of regulation concerns.
Pharmaceutical companies represent a dominant force in opposition to lowered drug prices for obvious reasons. With millions in lobbying efforts each year, legislators face moral and ethical dilemmas where they must choose to advocate for the companies that fund their campaigns or the best interests of their constituents.
While Democrats appear to lead the charge against the pharmaceutical industry, prominent conservatives, including Ted Cruz, voted for Americans to be able to purchase cheaper prescriptions from Canada. As a part of Trump’s campaign promise to address drug pricing, we are waiting to see if Trump will act in support of public welfare or enact industry recommendations.
Importation represents only one of the potential resolutions to address the public concern of prescription drug prices. Alternative recommendations include amending the process of approving generics, requiring pricing transparency from drug companies, drug advertisement restrictions, allowing the government to negotiate the prices of Medicare-covered drugs and amending FDA regulations.
Pharmaceutical drug pricing is an issue that affects millions of Americans every day. Will Congress act to address this issue and enact meaningful legislation, or will they allow the American public to just be caught in the cross-fire of partisan warfare? As long as more headline-worthy partisan news coverage continues to overwhelm media outlets, it’s hard to predict when, or if our policymakers will rise to the occasion.