Although President Trump laid out a broad blueprint in mid-May to reduce prescription drug costs, the administration has reportedly done little to curtail rising prices.
Just last week, pharmaceutical giant Pfizer hiked prices on about 100 drugs, its second time this year, according to a report by The Financial Times. Trump slammed Pfizer in a tweet, lambasting the company for raising drug prices for “no reason.” In a statement, Pfizer said it was only modifying the prices of 10% of the drugs in its portfolio, including lowering the cost of some.
In order to make medicine more affordable for the American people, Dr. Janette Nesheiwat told FOX Business’ Neil Cavuto the White House should consider eliminating the middleman. By placing strong restrictions on the pharmacy benefit managers (or cutting them out entirely), the middlemen who pocket a share of the rebate, consumers could receive that money instead.
“I have patients that have to choose,” she said. “Should they go and get their medication, or do they need to save that money to pick up food? They shouldn’t have to choose.”
Rebates often make so patients don’t need to pay the full price for drugs, but they’ve also faced increased scrutiny in recent years as patients are forced to pay the whole cost -- thanks to high deductible health plans -- despite paying the rebate.
Patients should also be sure to shop around at different pharmacies, which often have different prices for different medicines, or try to use generics. And if a doctor prescribes a name-brand medicine, Nesheiwat recommended asking for a generic instead.
They should also be aware of the so-called “gag rule,” a contract that some pharmacists have with the pharmacy benefit managers. The clause often punishes pharmacists for telling patients about how to save money by buying generics.
According to the Prescription Drug Resource Center of the National Conference of State Legislatures, at least 21 states have some type of “gag rule” in place on pharmacists.
“We have the most advanced medicine and technology in the world,” she said. “And now we’re dealing with what seems like price gouging by these pharmaceutical companies, because there’s really no good or clear reason why they are raising these prices, other than the pursuit of profit.”