As controversial a president as Donald Trump is, it seems that most Americans should be able to agree that one of his recent moves--requiring TV ads for prescription drugs to disclose prices--is a good idea all around. The more transparency and honest conversation about prescription medications and the prices set for them, the better.
Evidence suggests that Americans would welcome stricter regulations around Big Pharma so that they no longer have to suffer at the hands of greedy corporate heads who allow sick and needy Americans to suffer and die while they themselves buy another private jet, yacht, or five-star vacation and get all the richer. According to a recent survey, 88 percent of Americans from the sample audience support the Trump administration’s initiative to require drug companies to include drug list prices in direct-to-consumer advertisements, such as those found on TV and in magazines.
Many Americans who are in need the most have to endure draining their life’s savings to afford the life-saving medications they need, or simply miss out on the drugs altogether if they cannot find another way to acquire them--such as traveling to Canada or another country where the prices are more sensible and realistic.
The number of Americans heading north to fill their prescription drugs is on the rise again, and it could affect Canadians. Drugs like insulin are available for purchase at a tenth of the price Americans face in the United States, and many make special trips to Canada to acquire the medications they need because it's actually more affordable than being these drugs at home. However, if this trend continues or accelerates, it has the potential to impact drug supply for Canadians. Some physicians have dual licenses so that they are able to assist.
In this article, we’ll look at Trump’s recent move to require drugmakers to disclose prices on their drugs in TV advertisements. No matter how you feel about the president, this recent act could make major positive change on both sides. The general public will be more informed and thus, able to make better decisions surrounding their own health care choices.
Why do prescription drug TV ads now have to disclose prices?
The Trump administration recently made a big change to the way prescription drug ads on TV will be presented to consumers. Now, in addition to disclosing things like side effects and potential risks of taking the medication, they will also need to be up front about the prices of their product if the cost is over $35 for a month’s supply.
As Boston.com explains it, “Those ever-present TV ads for prescription drugs will soon carry prices, too … responding to a public outcry for government action to restrain medication costs. Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said the Trump administration has finalized regulations that will require drug companies to disclose list prices of medications costing more than $35 for a month’s supply.
‘What I say to the companies is if you think the cost of your drug will scare people from buying your drugs, then lower your prices,’ Azar said. ‘Transparency for American patients is here.’
Prescription pricing disclosure was part of a multilevel blueprint President Donald Trump announced last year to try to lower prescription drug costs. As a candidate, Trump, a Republican, also favored allowing importation from abroad.”
It makes sense that the Trump administration is making these positive moves at this time. The price of prescription drugs is a major concern for voters, and another election cycle is coming up in 2020. Making moves popular with both sides of the aisle is a good idea for them to be able to point to clearly defined successful highlights and accomplishments of Trump’s time in office, increasing his chances of getting elected again for another term in office.
As the new commercials roll out, consumers are likely to see the drug pricing details presented toward the end of the advertisements, likely in text around the time that the commercial is going over the side effects. Only time will tell how these new commercials will look to American consumers. Americans can expect to start seeing the newly regulated commercials later in the year.
Some argue that price disclosure on commercials and advertisements isn’t going to help or really do much of anything to make drugmakers actually lower their prices. However, a better informed public is never a bad thing, so it seems these new measures can only help. The more that people understand about the way the system works, the more chance there is for improvements to be seen.
And at the end of the day, drugmakers have to abide by the principle of supply and demand. They can only sell their drugs at prices that people are willing to pay for them. If there is no demand for the products they’re offering due to the too-high price point, they can only reasonably respond by lowering their prices to meet the needs and demands of the market. It’s basic economics.
If people know the extremely high cost of a drug the moment it is presented to them, oftentimes they won’t even waste their time on considering that drug. Instead, they’ll do their research and look around for alternatives, generic equivalents, or more cost-effective ways to get the treatment they need. This restores power to the people and gives them the freedom to make better decisions for themselves around their own health care needs. Big Pharma will have to bow to the patient, rather than the other way around.
The importance of cost transparency with prescription drugs
The issue with price gouging on prescription drugs in the United States dates back decades. For many years, Americans with the means to access brick-and-mortar pharmacies in Canada have been making the trek to their northern neighbor to fill life-saving prescriptions at costs that don’t cast them into destitution. This is a common practice for those who need certain medications but can’t afford to acquire them in America, where drugmakers can make a fortune while needy patients go without the prescriptions that would save their lives.
According to CPPI, “These trips were worth it – consumers were paying up to 81 percent more for their medications in the U.S. compared to what they would pay in Canada based on the 10 most widely-prescribed prescription drugs, according to a Congressional Research Service study. Americans now spend on average $1,000 per person each year on prescription medications, which is approximately 40 percent more compared to prescription medication spending by Canadians. Over the past several decades, prescription drug prices have continued to skyrocket and the trend does not seem to be slowing or ceasing any time soon.”
Americans deserve to know the truth around the structure of prescription drug pricing in America, where prices are not regulated or negotiated by the US government when drugs are introduced onto the market. In America, drugmakers and Big Pharma are allowed to set their own prices for their products… even if that means they set them at exorbitantly high costs that no average person could realistically afford.
Most big drug companies claim that they need to set the prices so high in order to recoup their losses on all the money they invested into the research and development of a safe and effective drug to introduce to the market. However, Americans who need these drugs are the ones who suffer the consequences when greedy corporate heads choose to line their pockets with the profits of their medications.
An article published by NPR explains, “About a quarter of Americans surveyed say they’ve had trouble paying for their prescription drugs, and a majority welcome government action to help cut the cost of medications. A survey released Friday by the nonpartisan Kaiser Family Foundation finds that many people have skipped or rationed their prescription medications or have substituted cheaper over-the-counter drugs. The result? Those who ration their meds are often sicker, the poll finds.”
Fortunately, as society progresses, more options have presented themselves, and online pharmacies became a viable option so that people didn’t have to physically travel to Canada to get the medications they needed.
CPPI explains, “The Internet has expanded access to licensed, legitimate online pharmacies for Americans who don’t live close to the U.S.-Canadian border. For more than 15 years, millions of Americans have imported their personal prescriptions from Canada and saved between 50-80 percent on the cost of their medications. We will continue fighting for the rights of Americans to access safe and affordable prescription medication.”
This is why Trump’s recent move to increase transparency around prescription drug pricing is so important. The more people are informed and the more information they know, the better off they are. They should know the prices of certain medications before they even start considering them or asking their doctor about them. For many drugs, generic equivalents are available that would not leave the patients penniless.
And at the end of the day, the more that Americans know about how the drug pricing world in their country really works, the better the chances for continued change and improvements in the system.
What you need to know about saving on drugs
There are ways to save on drugs without having to travel to Canada--though for some people, that still may be the best option.
A pharmacist with nearly three decades of experience shared her own tips with Fox 56. She encouraged patients to be their own advocate. “When picking up your prescriptions, [pharmacist Becky] Gilkey says you should ask your pharmacist this simple question: ‘What’s the cash price of my prescription?’ Surprisingly, it could be cheaper than using your insurance.
‘Know that just because you have insurance, doesn’t mean you have to use it. You have the option to pay for it yourself, pay cash.’ … One example she shared was a patient who needed Prilosec. Through this patient’s insurance, it costs $177.49. But for the patient to pay cash and not use her insurance, the cost was only $22. That’s a savings of $150 without using her copay. …
Pill splitting is another option she says that can save you money. For example - if you need a 50-milligram dose, ask your doctor if you can get a 100-milligram pill, then cut the dose in half. This will create twice as many doses for the same price. Be aware, not every pill can be cut in half. ‘Most of the medicines you can do that for are scored and you can break them or use a pill cutter,’ said Gilkey.”
These are just a few money-saving tips from a licensed pharmacist who has an interest and heart for helping patients be able to afford their medications. There are more tips to save money, too--including using the resources available to you to save money on the prescriptions you need.
Perhaps one of the best examples of this in the modern age is to make use of the access given to us by the advent of the Internet. As mentioned before, Americans no longer need to plan a trip across the border to Canada to access the country’s lower prescription drug prices. Instead, they can order from an online Canadian pharmacy like this one.
Ordering from an online Canadian pharmacy
If you’ve never before ordered from an online Canadian pharmacy, the foreign concept may be unfamiliar to you. However, do enough research and you’ll find that this is actually a pretty commonplace way for Americans to be able to easily access the prescription drugs they need at better prices than are available to them from the pharmacy down the street. We even sell over-the-counter products like sunscreen, much like a brick-and-mortar pharmacy does.
Explore our website and find out whether we stock the drugs you need. Then, compare prices on the drug equivalents we offer and consider the added convenience of being able to have your pharmacy order delivered straight to your door. We offer FREE, direct shipping to our U.S. and Canadian customers, so you don’t even have to make a special trip to the pharmacy to acquire the lower-cost drugs that you need. In addition, we offer reliable service and attentive customer service agents who are on standby and ready to help you at any step of the ordering process.
If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to reach out to us. We are here to help! You can also check out our article titled Using a Canadian Online Pharmacy: The Solution to America's High Prescription Drug Prices? to learn more.
Skye Sherman is a professional writer who has been published in numerous local and international outlets. She has also worked for a wellness company and is very familiar with the healthcare industry. She holds a degree from a Florida university.
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