According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, Americans spend $450 billion annually on prescription drugs. That staggering number accounts for 10 percent of all health spending in the United States.
Just to put that $450 billion dollar total into perspective, Pennsylvania’s General Fund Budget is about $36 billion dollars. That money covers a full spectrum of programs and services and includes state subsidies for 500 school districts across the Commonwealth. Most importantly, there is accountability in the system. Pennsylvania’s budget is open to public scrutiny.
And, while national spending for medications is 12 ½ times as much as our state budget, there is little to no public information regarding the actual costs to produce those drugs. There is no way for the public to determine any correlation between the costs to the industry and the prices paid by consumers for their prescription drugs.
In the past, as drug prices continued to skyrocket, Pennsylvania and states across the nation, for the most part, responded by simply mandating insurers cover these lifesaving medications. Unfortunately, that approach does not address the problem but only spreads the burden of paying for these medicines to employers and individuals paying the premiums.
There has been no concentrated effort to pierce the veil that shrouds the way pharmaceutical companies price their products. Big Pharma consistently points to research and development as the major drivers in the overall cost of the drug. However, it is no secret they also spend billions in marketing and advertising. Every time we turn on the television, we see drug commercials that encourage us all to become “self-prescribers.”
The truth is healthcare costs overall are out of control and pharmaceuticals are a big part of that. There is a great need for transparency and accountability. That’s why I introduced Senate Bill 579, legislation that will lift the veil of secrecy regarding prescription drug costs in Pennsylvania.
Rather than continuing and expanding the past practice of making others pay, we should focus on making the drugs more affordable by bringing transparency and accountability to the Big Pharma industry.
While Pennsylvania continues to face many challenges, I hope we can work together to make drug pricing and affordability a priority. This is truly a bipartisan issue that will help all Pennsylvanians.
In closing, I encourage local residents to visit my website, www.senatorlaughlin.com, and my Facebook page, https://www.facebook.com/senatorlaughlin/, to keep up to date with state government news – including the state budget — and learn more about state services and agencies.
Contact: Matt Azeles firstname.lastname@example.org