American College of Physicians Calls On US Government To Lower Drug Prices

The American College of Physicians has joined the fray in calling for lower prescription drug prices. Boasting 143,000 members, this organization released a position paper on March 28, 2016 that advocated for lower drug prices. It called for the pharmaceutical industry and the government to take action to bring down soaring drug costs. 

The United States Falls Behind The new article was released in the Annals of Internal Medicine on March 29, 2016. In the article, the organization mentioned that the United States is currently the only member of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development that does not have government regulation of drug prices. The other 33 members of the 34-member organization all have government laws in place to reign in drug prices.

Due to the spiraling costs of drugs, the ACP wants seven recommendations to be instituted to help bring drug prices down. The first goal on the list is to allow Medicare to directly negotiate with drug companies for lower prices. Additionally, the ACP wants the United States to encourage the re-importing of medication from nations like Canada where the drugs are available for a much lower price.

Over the years, drug companies have argued that research and production costs are responsible for the high prices. The ACP wants drugmakers to disclose exactly how much it takes to research and produce each drug. Drug companies would also have to disclose any discounts, rebates and other prices paid for medication that was created by government research. Currently, government organizations like the National Institute of Health perform research that is used by drug companies to turn a profit. If companies were required to disclose their actual costs, it would give the government a bargaining position on lowering drug prices.

The Pharmaceutical Company Is Against Transparency 

While the seven recommendations of the ACP are a move toward greater transparency, the pharmaceutical industry is not interested. Consultants and leaders in the pharmaceutical industry have stated that more transparency would hurt competition and make it harder to lower prices. While the majority of patients, doctors and health experts are for greater transparency, the pharmaceutical industry is struggling to support its stance.

An estimated 60 percent of American adults currently take some type of prescription medication. In the past, they were able to re-import these drugs from Canada at a much lower price. This can still be done today, but the pharmaceutical industry has actually been trying to limit the medication it sells to Canada to prevent medication from returning at a cheaper price to the United States. Drug re-importation is the only option for some patients because of the rising costs. The Kaiser Family Foundation conducted research recently that showed that patient copays are advancing faster than incomes.

In May, the American College of Physicians plans on taking its plan to the nation’s capitol. Members of the organization will begin calling legislators to demand action on rising drug costs.

Sources: 
http://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2016/03/29/471867695/physician-group-calls-on-government-to-rein-in-drug-prices
http://www.bna.com/healthcare-groups-offer-n57982070315/
http://annals.org/article.aspx?articleid=2506848

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