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Senate bill would empower Medicare to reduce drug prices

Written by Diane Archer

Today, Medicare covers prescription drug costs under Part B–drugs that are generally administered at a hospital or in a doctor’s office–and  Part D–drugs that are self-administered. And, Medicare pays whatever price pharmaceutical companies charge for their drugs because Congress forbids Medicare from negotiating drug prices. Now, Senator Amy Klobuchar has introduced a bill which would empower Medicare to reduce drug prices.

The price of prescription drugs has been rising rapidly in large part because there is no free market for drugs. The FDA approves drugs based on select evidence, without knowledge of their price or clinical effectiveness as compared with other drugs already on the market. Drug companies effectively have monopoly power to set prices for their patented drugs for as long as they can keep them patented. Doctors are free to prescribe these drugs regardless of their clinical benefits or costs. And, Congress requires Medicare to cover them, even without evidence of their clinical benefits relative to less costly drugs on the market.

Klobuchar’s bill is aimed at introducing some competition into the prescription drug marketplace through Medicare drug price negotiation. In early 2017, Klobuchar introduced legislation with John McCain to allow people to import drugs safely from Canada. She has also introduced bi-partisan legislation with Senator Charles Grassley that would keep Pharma from paying generic drug companies from delaying manufacture of their drugs as generics for lower cost, “pay for delay.” And, she has introduced bi-partisan legislation with Senator Mike Lee, Creating and Restoring Equal Access to Equivalent Samples (CREATES) to allow drug companies to sell drugs in the U.S. that they have sold abroad for at least 10 years when there is little or no competition for the drug in the U.S.

Thirty-one senators are co-sponsoring Klobuchar’s Medicare drug price negotiation bill, including Chuck Schumer, Patty Murray and Tammy Baldwin.

If you want Congress to rein in drug prices, please sign this petition.

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  • Diabetes Mellitus has been treated with insulin since it’s discovery in 1921. Because this hormone has been used so long, there were restrictions that it couldn’t cost more than the cost to produc3e it. But in 1980, Eli Lilly produced insulin derived from fecal bacteria that wouldn’t have the price restriction on mammal-derived insulin. So the pharmaceutical manufacturer extracted fecal bacteria-derived insulin, then cloned it (to increase profits), then genetically modified it so that it would be “suitable” for humans. There were no longer any price restrictions, the product denigrates in 28 days and the retail purchase cost totals over $400.00 for both fast-acting and long-acting insulins. This is absolutely outrageous! But because the number of Type 1 diabetics is so small; there is no public outcry at the cost. Basically, because the vast number of diabetics are Type 2 and the clinical trials were initially performed on Type 2 diabetics and non-diabetics; plus the manufacturer hid the fact that there was a 30% adverse reaction, particularly among long-term Type 1 diabetics, was hidden from the FDA to get approval of the drug in 1983. Being on of the 30% who have difficulty with this drug are ignored. There have been listed multiple side effects to this drug when the only reason to replace mammal-derived insulin with fecal-bacteria-derived insulin was for profit. I was able to work, drive and stay employed on mammal-derived insulin, but had to leave work in 1997. It is NOT APPROPRIATE for pharmaceutical manufacturers to make such an excessive profit for such a poor quality drug. I’m sure there are multiple equally adverse reactions for a lot of the drugs that fall into to this “biologic” category and again the ONLY reason is for excessive profit. Medicare SHOULD BE ABLE to negotiate more reasonable prices without all the excessive side effects that destroy patient lives/health.

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