Hope for healthcare costs? (FINALLY)

It’s rare that we ever get a “win” when it comes to reducing healthcare costs.

After all, Big Pharma has very deep pockets. And they lavishly throw lobbying dollars around to distract anyone with the slightest interest in cutting costs.

So—you can imagine my surprise that the Senate actually passed some modest drug pricing negotiation measures as part of the Inflation Reduction Act.

But let’s take a closer look at how we got here…

Throwing money in all the WRONG places

For decades, the drug industry has squabbled each time Congress considered a new bill that threatened its profits.

But their responses reached a new level of exaggeration this time…

  • This “could propel us light-years back into the dark ages of biomedical research”
  • This will “immediately halt private funding of drug discovery and development”
  • This is a “tragic loss for patients”

My, oh my. They really know how to cry wolf! (This is another form of distraction.)

And honestly, it’s the same thing they’ve been crying about since 1906, when the first drug regulation agency was created.

Do you want to know how much money they spent trying to oppose these modest drug price negotiations? At least $57 million.

And do you know how many medications that amount of money could buy? Even branded ones, and even at reduced prices?!

All while millions of Americans are forced to choose between their medications or putting food on the table…

Demand answers, act now!

This is downright criminal—especially considering the government is able to negotiate a better price that companies pass on to you, the consumer.

(These negotiations are normal in other high-income countries. No wonder so many Americans turn to Canadian or European pharmacies for cheaper prices!)

Well, the new bill—which is weaker than past versions that Congress tried to pass—at least enables Medicare to negotiate prices beginning in 2026, initially for just 10 drugs.

Of course, didn’t always have Medicare part D (our drug program). It was created in 2003 and, to no one’s surprise, Big Pharma vehemently opposed it.

Now, it has inspired pharmaceutical companies to spend more on approving drugs aimed at older people.

But… wouldn’t it be nice if they used that money to help people?

So, while the price negotiations remain modest, it’s at least a step in the right direction.

It will even save taxpayers $102 billion! (That may sound like A LOT, but it’s a drop in the bucket for the profits of Big Pharma.)

In the meantime, perhaps you have something to get off your chest in regard to drug price negotiations too. If that sounds like you, I encourage you to write to your local representatives. Demand answers, hold your representatives accountable, and request them to take action.

Not sure where to begin? You can get in touch with your elected representatives by phone, email, or a written letter. Use this directory to get started.

Phone: If you’d like to talk with someone directly, you can dial 202-224-3121. Just be sure to know your representative’s name and the specific issue you’re calling about.
Email: Using the directory above, click on your representative’s name. This will lead you directly to their website where you can find an email address or an online contact form.
Letter: Similar to finding an email address, each representative’s physical address will also be listed on their website. Just keep in mind it will take weeks for your letter to be received.

Until next time,
Dr. Fred

“Facing price controls, pharma industry cranks up heat on Congress.” CNN.com, 08/13/2022. (cnn.com/2022/08/12/health/pharma-spending-bill-khn/index.html)