Wednesday, September 14, 2016

The Presidential Candidates' Plans to Reduce Drug Prices

What are Hillary Clinton's and Donald Trump's views on the skyrocketing costs of prescription drugs in the U.S.? Who, exactly, is to blame for the rising costs, and what could be done about it? There's an article in The Lancet (a British medical journal) last month on the subject. Some of Donald Trump's ideas are not well fleshed out, as is usual for Donald Trump: you just have to trust him. Hillary Clinton, also true to form, focuses her attention on specific changes that she has in mind.

After reading the article I was left with a lot of unanswered questions. For example, why is it that although the U.S. develops most of the drugs, we end up paying more for them than people in other countries? Should drug companies really get tax deductions for their marketing expenses? Why isn't Medicare allowed to negotiate drug prices directly with pharmaceutical companies, as insurance companies and pharmacy benefit management companies do?

There has been a lot of news coverage lately about Mylan Pharmaceuticals' epinephrine injection device called the EpiPen, which contains about a dollar's worth of epinephrine but sells for about $300. It's time to ask whether this is really reasonable.

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