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Pills and Money

Currently, the fastest growing cost in healthcare is coming from double-digit growth in the cost of drugs. The cost of drugs is a significant burden for millions of Americans. Some believe the root cause is greed, but I believe the root cause comes from Congress. When the Medicare Part D Prescription Drug Plan was passed in 2003, Congress inserted a provision prohibiting Medicare, now the largest purchaser of healthcare, from negotiating the price of drugs from the pharmaceutical industry. Other developed countries pay a fraction of what we pay for the same drugs. In effect we are subsidizing some of the wealthiest countries in the world.

Congress should immediately allow Medicare to negotiate the price of drugs they pay for. This simple change could save hundreds of billions of dollars. Another area where there is an unnecessary waste of money in healthcare is TV advertising. Billions of dollars are spent on the dozen or more prescription drug TV advertisements foisted upon us every day. No other developed country in the world allows direct-to-consumer drug advertising. The billions of dollars spent on advertising would be better spent on research for new drugs. The TV advertising, which is subsidized by taxpayers because it is a deductible expense, adds spending for drugs most people have never heard of and do not need. The BBC has analyzed the numbers and found 9 out of 10 Big Pharma companies spend more on marketing than on R&D. We really don’t need that much help. Consumers have learned how to search the web for symptoms and solutions for their health issues.

Read much more about Big Pharma and the lobby supporting it in Health Attitude.

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