Is drug pricing going to become an election issue in 2016?


As many of our readers will be well aware, The “New” Prostate Cancer InfoLink has long argued that, if the biopharmaceutical industry doesn’t take serious steps to manage the problems of increasing prices that come with no real commensurate value, then someone else will take those steps for them.

We note that yesterday one of the current glut of presidential candidates here in the USA did indeed make some views extremely clear about what needed to be done “to deal with skyrocketing out-of-pocket costs and runaway prescription drug prices.” This may or may not become a serious political/electoral issue over the next 12 or so months, as we head toward the presidential elections in November 2016. It will continue to become an increasingly serious social issue regardless of the politics.

8 Responses

  1. Here is an extreme example of what some politicians worldwide are up against. Extreme only in his boorishness, not his high prices. I say “some,” because many are bought by capitalists. The latter are less direct, sly, but no less worthy of being outed and if possible sued. They’re servants in government too.

    And here is a more medically oriented report. This is mild compared to some I have seen. The online posts were often vicious. Who can blame them? I value thinking that any legal action taken against him, and I hope others, was initiated by quick response to public protest. This is a new kind of political process, one for the Internet age. Predecessors are the American civil rights movement and the Ban the Bomb movement.

  2. It had better be a campaign issue! Most of them need some education first but perhaps that will sort itself out as the field narrows.

    Instead of focusing on getting rid of what we have, we need to have politicians try and improve the system. Those that want to destroy never have a plan to promote with any substance.

  3. Seeing Some Virtue, Some Danger in Candidate Clinton’s Proposals

    I’ve seen two recent articles about the need to reduce drug prices in The Washington Post, and the content was quite similar to candidate Clinton’s proposals. My impression is that the first few proposals look feasible and helpful, but not the latter ones, specifically, quoting from the first link:
    “Another of Clinton’s initiatives would see the government study the effectiveness of drugs in an attempt to introduce value-based pricing of medicines.

    Clinton also proposed introducing a limit of $250 a month, or $3,000 a year, on what insurers can charge consumers with chronic or serious health conditions in out-of-pocket costs. “We will start by capping how much you have to pay out-of-pocket for prescription drugs each month and we’re going to hold drug companies accountable as we work to drive down prices,” Clinton commented. She also urged greater encouragement for the production of generic drugs, while cutting the sales exclusivity for biotechnology drugs to seven years down from 12 years.”

    It strikes me that value-based pricing is extremely problematic, unless you are God.

    The limits on monthly and yearly costs may also be problematic; fortunately, the Affordable Care Act goes a long way toward protecting many of us. I like encouraging generics, but reducing the exclusivity period strikes me as a formula for strangling innovation.

  4. Why trust Ms Clinton, if she comes out with (possibly intentionally) vague statements like this — the article’s crucial statement, “We will start by capping how much you have to pay out-of-pocket for prescription drugs each month and we’re going to hold drug companies accountable as we work to drive down prices”?

    Note her “as.” Can any politician today safely claim that out-of-pocket caps will be applied *before or during* a negotiation process? Will this be seen as a strong-arm tactic? If so, as I think it will, would the drug companies not react, maybe by getting a court order for her government to lay off (or something like that)? She might be insincere, trying to fool the public with such sloppy terminology. Or rather, with deliberately misleading terminology.

  5. Dear George:

    Oh please. We are not naive. Do you really think one should “trust” any politician in any absolute sense? Mrs Clinton’s comments are the very essence of rhetoric.

    The piece above was not some statement of fact about what might happen. It was a question about whether the issue of drug pricing would become a politically significant one over the next 12 months or so as we poor American electors are subjected to another round of political hysteria and bad manners. What might actually happen over time is a whole other issue.

  6. I agree, as it is implied by my suggestion. You, I, and I am sure others can detect rhetoric. But many will be taken in. That is bad enough for me. Rhetoric is dangerous too, certainly with another vocal populist. It can but need not lead to some form of fascism. Charismstic rhetoric does that at times. I tell Americans to read Thomas Mann’s 1920s story, “Mario and the Magician”, to see the danger.

  7. Dear George:

    Since you don’t live here, you are probably less than fully aware of the extent to which rhetoric is and long has been the dominant form of discourse in American politics. I may be more aware than the average US resident of H. L. Menken’s actual statement that

    No one in this world, so far as I know … has ever lost money by underestimating the intelligence of the great masses of the plain people. Nor has anyone ever lost public office thereby.

    However, the other half of that particular problem is that almost certainly no-one ever went broke or lost public office by underestimating the memory-span of the American public either!

  8. Dear Sitemaster:

    What a great quote. All I did here was to point out one imprecision in Ms Clinton’s discourse. I think I succeeded in that.

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