Rising Prescription Drug Prices: Warranted or Unjustified?
U. S. citizens pay the highest prescription drug prices in the world. This is an injustice that must be corrected. The "U.S. forbids the import of prescription drugs by anyone other than the original U.S. manufacturer, and even then only when the drugs meet all the approval requirements of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA)" (Barlett & Steele, 2004). Prescription drug prices are outrageously high in the United States because of the influence of advertising on consumer purchasing, the misleading statements by pharmaceutical companies about the cost of research and development of new drugs, the manipulation of patent laws, the antiquated laws regarding importation of drugs, and the influence of the greedy pharmaceutical companies' lobby on the Federal government. Prescription drug costs in the United States are unreasonably high, and consumers should have the option to save money by purchasing prescription drugs from reputable companies in Canada and the developed world.
Howard J. DeMonaco (2003), Chairman of the Human Research Committee of Massachusetts General Hospital and editor at Harvard Health Publications, predicts that prescription-drug costs will increase at a rate of around 11 percent each year. He attributes the increase to manufacturers raising prices, doctors prescribing new and more expensive drugs, and people taking more drugs than in previous generations. Pharmaceutical companies defend the increase in prescription drug costs. The increase in volume spending by seniors can be explained because they require multiple prescriptions to maintain an active lifestyle (Clemente, 2004). Pfizer states "the price increases of our medicines have averaged at or below the rate of inflation for the past five years" (Clemente, 2004). However, a The New York Times article refutes this information. "Last year, the drug industry raised prices by an average of 4 percent, twice the rate of inflation" (Connelly, 2003). In a survey by Weiss Ratings, Inc., 23.3 percent of respondents cited expensive marketing as a reason for soaring prescription drug costs ("Drug," 2004). Consumer advertising for prescription drugs has exploded since 1997, when the FDA relaxed its rules on pharmaceutical advertising. In 2000, drug companies spent about $10.4 billion on marketing, an increase of about 16 percent over the previous year, according to a recent study by consulting firm Scott-Levin (Banstetter, 2001). "The top-selling drug companies have enormous advertising budgets. Merck, for example, spent $160 million during 2000 promoting its anti-arthritis drug, Vioxx. That's more than PepsiCo spent advertising Pepsi, and more than Anheuser-Busch spent promoting Budweiser beer last year" (Banstetter, 2001). Advertising has been effective. "Prescription drug spending rose by 19 percent, or $20.8 billion, during 2000. About 48 percent of that increase came from the 50 most heavily advertised drugs" (Banstetter, 2001). The number of prescriptions written for the most advertised drugs jumped almost 25 percent during 2000, compared to a rise of just four percent for all other drugs (Banstetter, 2001). A study by the National Institute for Health Care Management, a Washington, D.C. based health care research group, reported 78 percent of doctors received requests from patients for Celebrex, a heavily advertised arthritis medication (Banstetter, 2001). "Retail sales of the 50 most advertised drugs rose 32 percent last year, compared to 14 percent for all other prescription drugs" (Banstetter, 2001). "The increase is fairly dramatic," said Steven Findlay, the National Institute for Health Care Management's director of research. "Of the 10,000 or so drugs on the market, it's this very small level of 50 or so drugs driving the spending upwards" (Banstetter, 2001). Pharmaceutical companies defend the high cost of prescription drugs because of the cost of research and development. It takes...
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