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Prescription Drug Reform

By Rlmckeeth1 May 19, 2013 1381 Words
January 21, 2013
Mark Williams

Prescription Drugs
There are over 2,800 different types of prescription drugs that have been through the FDA approval and are currently being used today by patients for treatment of a variety of illnesses. There are three categories of prescription drugs that are most commonly prescribed, Opioids (pain killers), CNS Depressants, and Stimulants. Prescription drugs are more potent than the drugs that are sold over the counter ("Prescription Drugs", 2008-2009). Some of these drugs can be highly addictive and need to be closely monitored by a physician. Abuse of prescription drugs has increased at staggering rates. According to USA Today in 2011 prescription drugs grossed over 320 billion dollars in sales. With the major contributors being the Elderly and helping save on some of the cost coming from more widespread use of generic prescription use. (“Prescription Drug Spending was flat in 2011,” 2012). The cost of prescription drugs can be scary when paying out of pocket. There are can be times that a particular drug is needed and if it is a newer drug, there isn’t a generic option for the first five years of the drugs inception. Prescription drugs are effective at treating many diseases and prolonging life with certain diseases that at one time was considered a death sentence. Many of these come at a steep price and when unable to afford some the medications it is common for people to travel outside of the country to purchase the drugs that they need. Mexico and Canada are common places people will travel to in order to acquire such drugs. There are busses that take groups across the boarders specifically for these types of purchases. This is a common practice among the elderly and helps make the drugs much more affordable. One concern with purchasing these drugs across the borders is that there is not much regulation and there is a potential to be purchasing drugs that are less potent or even expired. They may not have the same effectiveness for those who truly need it. (Rebecca Mckeeth) Average annual prescription drug costs without insurance

Prescription drugs cost but without insurance these prices can soar, especially if more than one drug is needed at any given time. Insurance companies are raising prices of co-pays for insurers with prescription drug coverage to cover the cost of these drugs that range from 0.88 cents to five dollars a pill (Health Crossings, 2012). Many choose to opt out of this coverage and just pay out of pocket when they are prescribed medication; but what about the elderly or chronically ill who “need prescription drugs but cannot afford them, states Health Crossings (2012)”. On the average 200 billion dollars are spent on these drugs from insurance companies and out of pocket; this is increasing by ten percent a year. According to Health Crossings (2012) “The world’s prescription drug companies routinely charge Americans much higher prices for the drugs than any other nation in the world”, prices have hit the roof with $35 for generic and $150 for name brands (these prices are based on a monthly supply) ( Health Crossings, 2012). The same factories that make these drugs shift its cost toward the uninsured in America, making them pay the bulk of these prices. Moreover the uninsured can reduce their price in prescription drugs by getting the generic medications that due the same justice as the name brands. According to the Food & Drug Administration (“FDA”), “All generic drugs approved by FDA have the same high quality, strength, purity and stability as brand-name drugs. And, the generic manufacturing, packaging, and testing sites must pass the same quality standards as those of brand name drugs” examined in Health Crossings (2012). So in summary the only difference between brand name and generic prescription drugs is the cost. (Shanta Anderson) Prescription Drug Reform

Widespread frustration about the high costs of prescription drugs have led to a number of Federal bills proposing to provide some type of benefit. Many of the proposals expand Medicare to include prescription drug benefit. One of the proposals will give states grants and will provide tax reimbursements. The others link the cost of drugs purchased through Medicare to the Federal Supply Schedule. The Federal Supply Schedule is used by federal agencies that will directly purchase the prescription drugs. All of the other pending legislation will only apply to senior citizens who take on the biggest part of the costs of prescription drugs. Drug companies are gouging consumers by charging American consumers the highest prices in the world. HMO’s, hospitals, and the federal government are using their buying power as leverage to negotiate lower prices. There are however, 70 million Americans with no or inadequate prescription drug coverage that is still paying too much for their medications. ( Tara Franklin) US Spends Billions on Prescription Drugs

In recent years Obesity and other medical conditions have been on the rise in both adults and kids making prescription use rise as well. As medical cost inflates so does prescription. As technology advances and medical breakthrough occurs it affects the rising cost of prescription. Prescription cost was an estimated $307.4 billion in 2010 and although in recent years the cost has reduced by 2.3 percent. In recent years the United States took a hit economically with the high rates of unemployment causing many to self- medicate rather than go to the doctors and incur medical expense. Around 30% of prescription drugs cost is covered by Medicaid and or Medicare Part D carriers. Which make up for government and state assistance? Cancer treatments are the leading cost in prescription medication costing an estimated $22.3 billion dollars and the treatments only has a 12% remission rates. Some political leaders suggest we are paying massively for a system that continues to fail us. As with any pharmaceutical investment the economy spends billions on drugs to treat patients with no guarantee treatment will work; especially cancer patients making it more expensive when treating a patient and hoping the body responds to the meds. (Lydia Lago) Conclusion

In conclusion, it is a well asserted fact that the cost of prescription drugs is indeed an almost unbearable burden that is carried by pockets of the elderly and the poor. There are ways to save money by purchasing prescription drugs in a different country, buying the generic version of the prescription drugs, using Medicare, Medicaid and supplemental insurance purchasing programs. There are many local cost saving measures such in store and pharmacy coupons, coupons from the drug manufacturer, and state and federally funded programs that help as well. Although there are many other programs that can help ease the weight of this burden, there is a huge lack of knowledge and accessibility. There are other measures of reforms yet to be enacted but they would mean just as much as the current measures if the people who need them cannot get access to them. More must be done on a community level. The needs of the community must be known so that this population can be properly served, as these services exist for them. This initiative level can help curb the amount of prescription drug abuse that happens. There needs to be more regulation as to who can purchase these drugs and greater consequence when these drugs are found to be stolen or ingested illegally. The cost saving measures, coupled with reform in this area of patient care and ensuring greater access to the community and public, we can expect real change and real relief for the pockets of those who need these medicines the most. (Tabitha Kelly)

Health Crossings. (2012, January 02). Average annual prescription drug costs without insurance. Retrieved from Prescription Drug Reform. (n.d.) Retrieved from

Prescription Drug Spending was Flat in 2011. (2012, April). USA Today Money, (), . Retrieved from

Prescription Drugs. (2008-2009). Retrieved from

US spent $307 billion on prescription drugs in 2010 Learn more: BqA. (2011). Retrieved from

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