To bring down drug costs, President Trump should focus on Big Pharma

Promoted from the diaries by streiff. Promotion does not imply endorsement.

President Trump has recently made reducing the outrageously high costs of prescriptions one of his top priorities. This is a commendable mission; it’s no secret that pharmaceutical costs have risen to stratospheric levels, and like a rocket, they’re showing no signs of slowing. That is, unless efforts like President Trump’s are successful.



President Trump certainly has the support of the American people on his side here. According to the Kaiser Health Tracking poll, over half (52%) of Americans think that the President and Congress should make reducing drug costs a top priority.


So where should President Trump focus his efforts? The obvious answer is that he should focus on the ones who raise the costs: Big Pharma. It’s no secret that Big Pharma has a stranglehold on the pharmaceutical market that would make pro-wrestlers jealous, using their decades-long influence over lawmakers to protect themselves, stymie competition, and keep their prices (and profits) high.


The same Kaiser Health Tracking poll shows that roughly 72% of Americans think that pharmaceutical companies have too much influence. So, it seems like a no-brainer that the President and members of Congress have a golden opportunity to hold Big Pharma accountable and bring pharmaceutical costs down.


But sadly, Big Pharma’s so far been successful in diverting attention from the real culprits of high drug costs – themselves – and have instead brought the focus onto Pharmacy Benefit Managers (PBMs).


As Zach Almond wrote in a recent blog post:



PBMs’ role in the drug market is to negotiate lower prices and discounts from drug manufacturers and pharmacies for health insurance plans, including those in Medicare Part D, the prescription drug benefit for seniors. According to one report, “PBMs save payers and patients 40–50% on their annual prescription drug and related medical costs compared to what they would have spent without PBMs.” They also save payers an average of $941 dollars a year as of 2016, and for every $1 spent on their services, they save payers $6.


PBMs represent a tiny piece of the pharmaceutical industry pie, and they use that money to get discounts for consumers. So, it’s more than a little ridiculous that PBMs should be blamed for high prescription costs.


But that’s not even the most ridiculous part of this twisted show – enter Congressman Buddy Carter (R-GA).


Carter is currently the only pharmacist in Congress, which would lead most to believe that he would understand the plight of consumers who buy prescriptions. Yet instead of using his unique position to hold Big Pharma accountable and fight on behalf of the American people, he attacks PBMs and defends Big Pharma.



What could lead a pharmacist – someone who sees people every day struggling to pay for prescriptions that they and their families rely on – to defend the very people who cause the pain in the first place? Perhaps it’s because his biggest donors are big pharmaceutical special interests, or because he and his wife own three pharmacies themselves.


Congressmen like Buddy Carter are just another example of the Washington, DC swamp protecting the big special interests that grease its wheels. If President Trump really wants to bring down prescription drug costs, he should focus his efforts on the Big Pharma companies who raise prices – and ignore their enablers like Buddy Carter.


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