We have a few ideas when it comes to lowering the prices of prescription drugs. You’ve probably experienced the stress and pressure that high-priced drugs can cause as both a physician and as a patient yourself. With few regulations, confusing guidelines, and little communication between the government, insurance companies, and patients, the prescription drug landscape can often feel like a lawless wasteland. While President Trump has vowed to reduce drug prices, many are still skeptical that these regulation changes will actually trickle down and benefit consumers. It’s time to start thinking outside the box to see if we can help solve this issue. With that being said, we’ve come up with a few different ways to ensure that these prices aren’t holding consumers hostage. Here’s how to lower drug prices.
How to Lower Drug Prices
Let Medicare Negotiate Drug Prices
Do you want to know how to lower drug prices? Well, the first place you should start is with Medicare. Using the clout of the program’s 57 million beneficiaries to bargain with pharmaceutical companies would give them the leverage they need to strike crucial deals. Many pharmaceutical companies object to government intervention. However, this might be one case where government regulation could ensure that everyone gets a fair and equal opportunity at the healthcare they deserve.
Currently, Medicare is barred from negotiating drug prices, specifically in Medicare part D which covers prescription drugs. Other government programs do not face such restrictions and have used their bargaining power to secure reduced drug prices that save their enrollees billions of dollars.
Create Drug Pricing Transparency
We’ve all seen the horror stories of vital drugs receiving a 300% price increase. While Martin Skreli quickly became the poster-boy of these unsavory tactics, these price hikes on very important drugs are actually quite common. So, if you want to know how to lower drug prices, it’s time that we hold these companies accountable.
One possibility is that companies would be required to submit to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services a document that states why exactly they decided to increase the price of the drug. Once submitted, the government could then review it and decide whether or not the company’s actions were just. The justification would include individual factors that contributed to the price increase. It would also include other factors that could include the percent of total expenditures on research and development. This is derived from federal funds and the total cost of marketing and advertising the specific drug. This transparency would keep pharmaceutical companies in check. It would also create more trust between consumers and the drug providers. This is a win-win situation for both sides.
Allow More Imports and Price Comparison
There are two other tactics when it comes to how to lower drugs prices. These options will both provide better options as well as more information when making a choice between various drugs. The first way that we can reduce drug prices is to allow more prescription drugs to be imported into the U.S. Obviously, these drugs would undergo rigorous FDA testing to ensure that they’re not harmful, but the influx of imported drugs would give consumers many more options. Currently, brand-name prescription drugs have a much higher price point in U.S. compared to other countries. If we can set up a system that allows cheaper (and still safe) imported drugs, this would take the financial pressure off of consumers.
Another option when it comes to how to lower drug prices could be better tools that allow both consumers and health insurance companies to compare prices. This means that consumers shouldn’t be able to compare just the pricing. They should also be able to compare the effectiveness of the drug, the safety of it, and any other pieces of information that would be crucial to a final decision.
Everyone has his or her own opinion on how to lower drug prices. While many are discouraged that there hasn’t been much change in the situation, it’s important to remember that there are at least ideas being thrown around. We can hopefully expect that President Trump will push for more changes in the near future.
If you have other ideas when it comes to lowering drug prices, feel free to comment below!