Is Big Pharma Ripping Off Seniors?

In this world of confusion, one thing is clear: Big Pharma is ripping off seniors. Monopolies that are run by people with seemingly endless bankrolls are jacking up the price of medications for the elderly at an alarming rate.

There has never been more of a need to revamp the medical insurance system in the United States. Obamacare proved to be a nightmare, crashing and burning in the final inning and taking down many honest, hard-working Americans with it. Most affected by this problem were prescription medications.

This has become an increasing problem for seniors who need to find a solution to the rising costs of both healthcare and prescription medications.

A New Sheriff in Town

President Trump is trying to rebuild many things, not the least of which is prescription drug plans. Seniors are often the most victimized group, who often do not have the resources to pay for their needed medications and treatments. Trump has expressed his view that the problem with Big Pharma is a national disgrace and one that he plans to spend a lot of his attention on in the coming months and years.

CNN reported recently that 20 of the most important medications that seniors take each month have skyrocketed. Senator Claire McCaskill, Democrat from Missouri, even admits this and expressed concerns recently for an increasingly aging population that finds themselves struggling to pay for their required prescriptions.

Who benefits?

This is the question we should be asking regarding the medical and prescription drug crisis: who benefits? The answer is simple: Big Pharma. According to Senator Caskill and other sources, large pharmaceutical companies have experienced an $8.5 million increase in revenue over the past five years. The Government Accountability Office (GAO) echoes this fact by reporting that 67% of drug manufacturers experienced huge increases in profit margins from 2006-2015. Profit margins for some major drug companies are up 20% from the previous years.

Cleaning House with Prescription Drugs

The new FDA have declared the big pharmaceutical companies have created a “rigged system,” much like many other aspects of the government that the new President has vowed to uproot and correct. But how can he reverse this rigged system in favor of seniors who need it the most?

Negotiating a Lower Price

One of the methods that have been proposed to limit the amount of money seniors (and others) must pay for these expensive medications is to allow Medicare, a government-backed entity, to negotiate prices with large pharmaceutical companies to lower the price of these medications.

What has been standing in the way is that some senators within congress do not want this negotiation to occur, citing the idea that government should not get involved in private industry. However, Bernie Sanders, independent party senator from Vermont, recently introduced new legislation that would allow this negotiation process to begin.

The bill is known as The Medicare Drug Price Negotiation Act of 2017, and it seeks to allow Medicare to negotiate prices with big drug companies to lower the cost. Would it do any good? It’s impossible to tell. But based on Trump’s track record for forcing negotiations with otherwise obstinate entities, with him at the helm, it just might work.

Several Democrats are backing this bill though it is not clear if the majority would support it. President Trump has made it clear that he will work with members of Congress on both sides of the aisle to reach an agreement with Big Pharma that would drive costs down and end the downward spiraling effect we are now seeing from these monopolies of medicine.

Where have all the generics gone?

One question that should be asked by interested parties is where the generic brands of medications have gone in recent years. Generic brand medicine offered a cheaper alternative for seniors and others who needed vital drugs that helped keep them healthy and alive. Now, it is often difficult to find these drugs, so they are forced to take the more expensive alternative.

Public View on the Matter

Despite what the politicians think on Capitol Hill, 90% of the general population is for allowing Medicare and other government agencies to negotiate drug costs with private pharmaceutical companies. The average citizen is aware of how large pharmaceutical drug companies are taking advantage of people, and they want it stopped.

Many Republicans agree with the idea of allowing big drug companies to negotiate with Medicare, while others do not. There are also many Democrats who don’t see eye-to-eye about the issue. So it will probably see a hot debate in the coming months between both sides of the aisle.

Regardless of the outcome, something has to change. Otherwise, the rising cost of pharmaceutical drugs will become a burden that is too hard to bear for seniors and for anyone who needs and depends on certain medications for their quality of life.

One disturbing statistic shows that over 2 million seniors did not take their required medications in the year 2015 alone, due to the rising costs of drugs. This has resulted in health issues for many, and some even died as a result of being forced to choose between “meals or pills.”

This is a national tragedy when we have senior citizens who are dying or omitting their important medications because they simply cannot afford them. No matter what someone’s political views are regarding the medical or pharmaceutical industry, we need to fix the problem of the soaring costs of medications so that we can make it affordable to everyone, not just the extremely wealthy patients.

This kind of apathy toward our seniors is appalling. You can take action by writing to your senators and representatives and asking them to back the new bill. It may not solve all of the problems of the prescription drug industry, but it is at least a step in the right direction.

Source: CNN.com, https://www.cnn.com/2018/04/03/opinions/prescription-prices-opinion-richtman/index.html