Kaiser Poll Show Support for Personal Imporatation

Kaiser Poll Show Support for Personal Imporatation

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Republican Platform Committee fails in healthcare plank with falsehood, ignoring the major issue of the past 16 months-- high prescription drug costs

By Daniel Hines
Publisher, RxforAmericanHealth

There is an old story about why an Ostrich sticks its head in the sand.  It is said that since it can’t see anyone, he thinks no one can see him. 

Now, the Republican Party Platform Committee has exhibited Ostrich-like behavior in its Healthcare plank, not even mentioning the cost of prescription medicines as an issue that demands immediate attention from elected officials except to claim that Obamacare is the cause, claiming that Obamacare “… through mandated price cuts for drugs under Medicare and Medicaid, forced pharmaceutical companies to raise prices for everyone else. Its “silver plans,” the most common option on the government insurance exchanges, limit people’s access to their own doctor through narrow networks and restrict drug coverage, forcing many patients to pay for extremely costly medicines for their chronic diseases…

This is an insult to the millions of Americans who can’t afford their medicines because of the predatory pricing practices of Pharma that have led to Americans paying the highest prices for their medicines in the world, making prescription drugs a major driver of total health care costs.

The truth is that Pharma charges what the traffic will bear. While the GOP Platform views Pharma as the ‘victim’ being forced to raise prescription drug prices by Obamacare, which ironically was passed because of the many behind-the-door deals made with Pharma, two hard truths remain: (1)  A prescription medicine that is unaffordable is, in and of itself, unavailable because of that unaffordability; (2)  And, As Stephen Schondelmeyer, Ph.D., drug pricing expert and head of the University of Minnesota Department of Pharmaceutical Care and Health Systems says, “A drug that’s not affordable is neither safe nor effective.”

The GOP cannot claim not to be aware of the public outcry abut high prescription drug prices. 

Most significantly, Candidate Donald Trump has expressed his support for personal importation of prescription medicines and price negotiation to lower prescription drug costs, only to be ignored by the Platform Committee.

Surely the Committee knows of the many bi-partisan Congressional investigations into the pricing abuses of Pharma, headlines among virtually all media, cost pressures that threaten the very stability of the Health Care system as prescription drugs are readily identifiable as a primary driver of costs,   and the demands by advocates that Congress take action to ensure that Americans have access to safe, affordable medicines that will enhance the health and well-being of Americans who cannot afford even their maintenance medicines, let alone the outrageous high costs of specialty medicines whose prices have soared simply because Pharma can charge what it wishes.

The failure to exhibit the leadership necessary to even acknowledge the problem cannot be construed as anything more than pandering to Pharma.  It is more disconcerting when the failure to present even a basic consideration of and reaction to the many bi-partisan proposals that have been brought forth over the years to lower prescription drug costs is put up against the Democrat Party Platform, which presents specific proposals to lower prescription drug prices. 

These include an end to pay-for-delay tactics of Pharma to keep lower-priced generics off the market; personal importation of safe, affordable prescription medicines from licensed, registered pharmacies in Canada and other ‘comparable’ (Tier One Countries) where the standards of Safety and Efficacy meet or exceed those of the U.S.; greater ‘stakeholder’ rights for the general public; and price negotiation for Medicare drugs.

For the record, we submitted a proposal to both the Democrat Platform Committee and to the GOP Platform Committee.  Both were based on the principles outlined in The American Rx Bill of Rights, but tailored to reflect the particular political philosophies of each Party,  in a manner showing how certain tenents of  what might seem to be differences actually could provide a basis from which to reach consensus.

From a strictly political viewpoint, it is imperative that Candidate Trump intervene to ensure that the Healthcare portion of the GOP platform reflect his stance, which has included a role for some sort of personal importation of brand-name medicines. 

But, instead of incorporating Trump’s stance into the document, the Platform Committee has instead included boilerplate  that sounds as though it has been written by Pharma spokespersons.

Candidate Trump had already shown his ability to shape the platform on other issues, such as trade,  moving the Committee closer to his stance on agreements such as NAFTA, TPP and future negotiations.

In light of that issue, the failure of the GOP Platform Committee to even acknowledge a basic understanding of the pricing philosophy of Pharma calls for immediate action by Candidate Trump to acknowledge that the cost of prescription drugs is nothing less than a national emergency.

The challenge now is for him to clearly identify his stance on healthcare and related-issues such as prescription drug costs.  If he acts to ensure the inclusion of his previously announced stance, it will be a welcomed sign of a commitment to making safe, affordable prescription medicines available to millions of Americans.

The alternative—signing-off on the GOP Platform Committee ill-founded reasoning of why prescription drug costs are high is unacceptable and likely could have severe political recriminations in Election 2016 since at one time or another in our lives, virtually every American of some member of their family will require medications.

A failure to act will be viewed as a repudiation of his previously announced stance, and would be an indication that the GOP is unresponsive to the major healthcare story of the past 16 months, e.g. the predatory pricing practices of Pharma.  If it is the latter, then the symbol of the GOP should be changed from the Elephant to the Ostrich.
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