Prices of The 21st Century

450 percent. That is the percent EpiPen prices increased in a span of ten years. A pen that saves lives is becoming undeniably harder to get. Not to mention, many people with allergies need it. This is a current trend in drug prices. People are forced to buy these products in order to maintain a healthy lifestyle. Big pharmaceutical companies and drug makers have money to do whatever they want because money dictates the world we live in. Regulations are so lenient with these companies that they always find ways to bypass the written laws. What we see behind the curtains remains unknown. But what we do know is that it is unethical to limit someones potential because of their financial distress. Overall, a raise in drug prices prevents those with low income from getting their medical needs. As a result, a big health disparity in certain parts of the country will continue to increase. There should be no excuses as to why we can’t provide everyone equal needs. The government must create regulations in drug pricing to have health equity for all despite their financial backgrounds.

EpiPen comes in different packaging but usually in pack of 2. Joe Raedle/Getty Images

On the other hand, some may argue creating drugs does take a lot of money to make; Therefore, pharmaceutical companies and drug makers have no other choice but to charge citizens with these expensive drugs. For instance according to the article, “ What’s behind the sharp rise in prescription drug prices? ” it states that “ Drug makers charge high prices for drugs thanks largely to “market exclusivity” regulations intended to allow them to recoup the research and development costs for new breakthrough medications, said senior author Ameet Sarpatwari.” Making drugs is a process and during this process money is used for research and development. The only reason companies charge so much is to prevent their company from taking a hit in profit. So in this sense, drug pirces must be set to a point where they can’t take a loss in profit because otherwise, companies would go out of business. Furthermore, these companies take high risks to develop drugs because sometimes generic drugs gets put out into the market a year later. So, “market exclusivity” helps drug makers get a bang for their buck before the market crashes in the product. It is no question that regulations have big roles in both lowering and rising drugs.

Dangerous Monopolies

Although some say that development and research is the cause of high drug prices, most would argue that the price for research and development is not as accurate as some claim. Michelle Plumm states that, “ …two health policy experts argue that companies spend around $60 million after discovery costs to test a new biologic or small-molecule drug — a far cry from the $1.3 billion estimate normally bandied about by the drug industry.” If true, the markedly lower price of drug development can sabotage big pharmaceutical’s claims that high drug prices are needed to motivate medical innovation. Drugmakers can be feeding the public lies and prevent us to see the truth which is, companies CAN lower the costs. We must understand that, it is unlikely a private company will pick ethics over money. It‘s no question that they only have one thing in their agenda, which is making the most profit under no circumstances. Research and development is expensive but knowing their loose limitations with the law, they will exploit the power of controlling prices. Debunking the lies told by these companies are steps to helping those that actually need these drugs but can’t afford it.

When it comes to saving a life and helping those in pain, drugs should be a accessible to everyone at a reasonable cost. As a part of society, it should be everyone’s priority (companies, government, businesses and etc.) to provide for the people, to help the people; therefore, FDA regulations should be altered in order for generic drugs get out to the public faster. In the article, “5 Reasons Prescription Drug Prices Are So High in the U.S.” by Sydney Lupkin, she emphasizes that

“ We allow “government-protected monopolies” for certain drugs, preventing generics from coming to market to reduce prices. In an effort to promote innovation, the U.S. has a patent system that allows drug manufacturers to remain the sole manufacturer of drugs they’ve patented for 20 years or more… But sometimes, drug companies deploy questionable strategies to maintain their monopolies.”
Quick glimpse of the FDA approval process. Bruce E. Onofrey/Reviewofoptometry.com

Although U.S. has patent system and FDA gives drug manufacturers exclusivity for certain products like those people with rare diseases. It still doesn’t stop these companies from finding loop holes to create profit. Monopolies prevents smaller businesses from forming which means more money for them. Keep in mind, while gaining money they are also gaining power. With the principle of supply and demand, it is clear monopolies are exploiting it in order to get the most out consumers while also eliminating any competitors. Soon the market will be flooded with low quality products.This epidemic of monopolies is becoming uncontrollably harder to limit and society is taking steps back. Government needs to take bigger, and better actions rather than having patent systems because lives are at stake.

To ensure a efficient way to stop this fast growing problem, the government must prevent monopolies and protect citizens from ridiculous drug prices. Lupkin pointed out that,

“ Countries with national health programs have government entities that either negotiate drug prices or decide not to cover drugs whose prices they deem excessive. No similar negotiating happens in the U.S. When a Republican-majority Congress created the Medicare drug benefit in 2003, they barred the program that now covers 40 million Americans from negotiating drug prices. Medicaid, on the other hand, must cover all drugs approved by the Food and Drug Administration, regardless of whether a cheaper, equally or more effective drug is available…”

Government has done little to regulate private businesses from creating monopolies. As a result, companies in the United States have not limit on the prices they set. Unfortunately, this trend is only prevalent in the United States based on the quote. In addition, generic drugs has always been slow to process because there was a wait to release for the market. A generic drug could only be released to the public after the branded company’s patent had expired.(Feldman & Frondorf) Thankfully, the Hatchman-Waxman act, passed in 1984, helped speed up the process of getting the drug into shelves of pharmacies. However, the process was still long because generic drugs had to go through many clinical trials and tests for safety. Although generic drugs helps most of the public, pharmaceutical companies continue to find new strategies into blocking the entry of generic drugs. The Hatchman-Waxman act prevents a monopoly but encourages companies to find more ways to slow down the the process of bringing generic drugs to the public. Some of the strategies companies use is what’s called “pay and delay”; During the process, a “potential generic manufacturer is simply paid by the pioneer drug maker to refrain from entering the market until a stipulated date ”. (Feldman & Frondorf) Companies choose to delay generics because it reduces their income. Methods used to delay generics from coming in the market helps name brand companies get the most money as they can. If the government continues to let companies exploit their power, living “comfortably” will become a luxury. Sickness will soon symbolize death and hardships. Simple solutions must be made now to protect the future because as of recent government hardly cares.

Social Activeness

We as citizens of this country must make our voices heard by being proactive politically, socially and being aware. In the article, “What Do Citizens Have to Do? Parents’ and Adolescents’ Messages About Civic Duty ” it says that “…conceptualizations of good citizenship incorporate a wide range of diverse attitudes and behaviors, and this range may be reflected in the ways parents and adolescents discuss civic obligation .” Being proactive can push for change in regulations. Young or Old generations must fight for what is ethically right. We are blessed with the privilege to let our voice be heard so we must use this power to our advantage .First, adults must create a atmosphere where they are able to encourage adolescents to engage in civic duties wether its voting, and being aware to protesting.

Bill Pugliano / Getty Images

Being aware is one of the easiest things you can do. Educating others so they have a position can create a good discussion. In this case, some argue that drugs makers have no choice but to raise the prices because of the cost of research and development but digging deeper and doing some research shows they are able to lower the costs. Point being, educating yourself to have a position in any argument can lead to other proactive actions that has the potential to make changes in society.

What’s Happening Now

Government power can be made to make a push for lowering these products. And suprisingly the Trump administration is currently forcing drug makers to do so. Trump’s method is to have U.S. government purchase drug companies. On the contrary, recently the affordable healthcare act has been repealed which will cause drugs to be more expensive. Tami Luby of the CNN money mentions that, “ Senior citizens have to pay more for drugs while they are in the donut hole. For 2016, the gap begins when enrollees and their insurers have spent $3,310 for medication and ends after they hit $4,850 in costs.” Right now the future of drug prices is up in the air but its our responsibility to force the government to make the right changes. We have yet to know what his true intentions are. Because with his history, it seems Trump would be the last person to help the oppressed groups.

Medical Drugs is a innovation discovered centuries ago, it is one of the most useful resources we have today. Preventing access to certain groups is unethical. Anyone can be suffering from a sickness or disease including loved ones. But knowing that they must suffer because of their financial background is not right. Society should focus on Health Equity and not Health equality. Being educated will help filter out the bad and look at the ways to improve individually. Children who are raised with good core morals and beliefs can help them make the right ethical decisions. Acting as a community and having solidarity can influence many more to make changes in the system in which drug companies have power. To Improve our society, having awareness of the problems within the closed doors between big pharmaceutical companies will strike a sense of urgency to make a change. Attacking individual issues such as improving drug prices, spreading awareness in whats happening, can help overcome the big challenge of providing everyone health equity. Also, letting your voice be heard in political voting can improve the well being of peers or strangers living in the same situation. Politics and getting involved in government can help appoint those politicians with the same views and goals as yours. Encouraging others to vote can lead to bigger changes within the system of hegemony. Equality will soon prevail if everyone is on board to step up and let your voice be heard. This includes, politicians, top 10% of economic ladder, friends and families. Ending the poor pricing of drugs is one of many issues that needs to be addressed socially and politically because it has cause suffer and pain of families just trying to live. Improving these regulations and prices will give hope to those struggling while future generations can only learn from our mistakes. Change is reachable only if we give ourselves the chance to.

Works Cited

Feldman, Robin, and Evan Frondorf. “Drug Wars: A New Generation Of Generic Pharmaceutical Delay.” Harvard Journal On Legislation 53.2 (2016): 499–561. Academic Search Complete. Web. 9 Dec. 2016.

LaMattina, John. “Trump Can Lower Drug Prices By U.S. Government Purchase Of Drug Companies.” Forbes. Forbes Magazine, 18 Jan. 2017. Web. 10 May 2017.

Luhby, Tami. “Repealing Obamacare Affects Everyone.” CNNMoney. Cable News Network, 12 Jan. 2017. Web. 9 May 2017.

Lupkin, Sydney. “Why Prescription Drugs Are So Expensive | Money.” Time. Time, 23 Aug. 2016. Web. 6 May 2017.

Oosterhoff, Benjamin, et al. “What Do Citizens Have to Do? Parents’ and Adolescents’ Messages about Civic Duty.” Journal of Adolescent Research, vol. 30, no. 3, May 2015, pp. 365–389. EBSCOhost, doi:10.1177/0743558414563931.

Pflumm, Michelle. “Drugs Development Is Cheaper Than Widely Claimed, Experts Say.” Nature Medicine, vol. 17, no. 4, Apr. 2011, p. 395. EBSCOhost, doi:10.1038/nm0411–395b.

Thompson, Dennis. “What’s behind the Sharp Rise in Prescription Drug Prices?” CBS News. CBS Interactive, 24 Aug. 2016. Web. 6 May 2017.

Tuttle, Brad. “Why Do Prescription Drugs Cost So Much? How to Save on Meds | Money.” Time. Time, 22 June 2016. Web. 6 May 2017.

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