US Drug Prices

Everyone knows that US drug prices are higher than anywhere else in the world. We need to examine why?

  1. US Pharmaceutical companies lobbying efforts in Congress help keep favoring tax laws, thus no penalty for selling drugs at higher prices.
  2. They pay no federal income tax because our tax codes allow them to write off research and development as an expense against their earnings. Years ago, I spoke with a small pharmaceutical company back east about using enterprise zones to reduce taxes and was told they didn’t need any write-offs because they paid no federal income tax or very little.
  3. Many federal and state laws prohibit Americans from buying drugs outside the US.
  4. Americans aren’t shouting loud enough for Congress to offer solutions.

Finally, our government is trying to do something to lower drug costs for Americans. We are not there yet, but some progress is being made.

This is not a political statement but a factual one.

The solution is really very simple, yet Congress refuses to do what’s right for the American public. All that needs to be done is pass a law stating that these pharmaceutical companies cannot sell their drugs in the US for more than the average price they sell it in the rest of the world. Simple, clean and to the point. There also must be some cost associated with violating that law; like loss of tax-exempt status, or jail time for executives if they violate that law or something along those lines. The penalties must be severe to force compliance, or this will not work.

There is talk on the other side of this argument that lowing the cost of drugs in the US will cause no future R & D to find new drugs or stall future drug development. That is nothing more than the pharmaceutical companies not wanting to give up their cash cow. The development will continue because these companies need new development to stay at the forefront of their industry. New drugs mean more money for these companies.

The other part of this equation is that seniors are not getting the medications they need at reasonable costs because these same pharmaceutical companies have decided not to give these expensive drugs to seniors at the same discount, they give to those under 65. I personally experienced this some years ago with Embrel. I was getting it for $10 per month instead of $1800 per month. When I went on Medicare, I was told by the manufacturer that it was illegal to give me that same discount while on Medicare. I was able to get a letter from CMS (Centers for Medicare and Medicaid) the governing body over Medicare that it was legal to continue that discount even while on Medicare. Fighting Big Pharma is not in the cards as I don’t have the money to do so. (No one does). So today, some of the pharmaceutical companies do offer special pricing for seniors like they do for underage recipients but that is few and far between.

So, we are left with what these companies want to do versus doing what is necessary for the American public and that same public is paying for drugs to be distributed all over the world for less than we pay in this country. THIS NEEDS TO STOP.

Ask your Congressperson to do something and stop the gridlock on this issue so Americans can pay the same prices for medications as the rest of the world does.

I welcome your comments.

The Barend Agency Inc.



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