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April 04, 2007

so much to spend.. so little time

“Pharmaceutical Federal Lobbying Spending Flourishes�

Center for Public Integrity
4/3/2007

http://www.pharmaceuticalonline.com/content/news/article.asp?DocID=%7B14928F57-8EDB-4B16-B9F0-BAD31D7B61D8%7D&Bucket=Current+Headlines&VNETCOOKIE=NO

Summary:

From January 2005 to June 2006 pharmaceutical companies spent $155 million lobbying the federal government. One of the most heavily lobbied against was the Medicare Prescription Drug, Improvement, and Modernization Act of 2003, that “barred the federal government from negotiating on the Medicare drug prices.� Other agendas include protection of drug patents and prevention importation from Canada. It was also reported $650 million has been spend since 1998. During the same time period, the drug companies had substantial sales in the quarter trillion dollars. The ratio of pharmaceutical lobbyist to congress members to 2 to 1.

Implication to pharmacy:

In such a market driven country and economy, lobbying to protect their assets and profits is expected. However, spending $650 million in the last 8 years on lobbying, is a new level. This could have been a cost saving transfer to consumers, instead of trying to prevent amendments and bills from decreasing their business. If the companies were fair to begin with, then no one would want legislative bills against the companies to decrease their profits. Previously articles have representatives from pharmaceutical companies concerned about safety and counterfeiting of importing drugs. Of course their primary concern is their loss of any potential profit. If these are the same manufacturers that are selling these drugs oversees, there should be no difference in safety and efficacy, unless its made differently for each country which is highly doubtful. Importation would not be an issue if prescription drug prices were more reasonable to the American public. With all the money they’re spending on lobbying, they could just lower the prices to the consumer and the issue would not be so prevalent in the public.

Moreover, pharmacists are involved in pharmaceutical company’s processes. In a way, this a negative impact on the pharmacists who do work for industry as greedy individuals, but these are also individuals who are establishing drugs available to the public to help with medical conditions. The drug development process is long and extensive, so of course the company would like their investment returned substantially and before their patent is expired. We need to ask though, how much is enough in return? With a business driven mentality, pharmacists are not in charge. Business is in charge, and money is the main driver. This is where we are, profit driven health care system with consumers paying. In essence, we are consumers also and we are all apart of an uncontrollable process in a free market world for people’s health.

Posted by aluong at 12:15 AM | Comments (0)

April 03, 2007

voters, voters.. support

“Sen. Lott must support new legislation about drug prices�


By Sherri Davis-Garner
April 2, 2007

http://www.clarionledger.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20070402/OPINION/704020311/1166

Summary:

This article emphasizes Mississippi residents’ support for the Pharmaceutical Market Access Act by encouraging Sen. Lott to support the bill. Last year, he supported the Stabenow-Lott legislation which, would have allowed Americans to get lower-cost generic prescription drugs to market. AARP is a large influences trying to get the senator to endorse the bill. � According to a recent AARP poll, 89 percent of Mississippi residents want Medicare to leverage the buying power of 43 million Medicare members to negotiate lower prices for prescription drugs.�


Implication on pharmacy:

Ms. Sherri Davis-Garner is an advocate for the Pharmaceutical Market Access Act and wrote this to encourage Mississippi voters to contact Senator Lott to support the legislative act also. We can see from this article the public, mostly older Americans, see the solution to their healthcare costs is to decrease prescription drug costs, mainly by increasing the bargaining power of Medicare. I don’t think they know of any other solutions besides the immediate costs they face. Not saying Americans are not informed but maybe not presented with all the facts before they start deciding. It seems that costs is the main drive for the bill, however, little safety concern is seen in the public, as of now. By the public thinking that prescription costs are the big factor in high healthcare, pharmacists receive their concerns, and sometimes frustration, about the costs. This is especially true in retail pharmacy, when there is a relationship with the patient. Dealing with insurance and trying to get the patient their medication at affordable costs is difficult for a pharmacist who has no control over the system. However, if we are knowledgeable about the best drug therapy available for the patients’ disease state, then that in the long run would be cost saving to them, so they would not be taking medicine that is ineffective or not as effective as another type.

Posted by aluong at 11:49 PM | Comments (0)

“Prescription drug importation may be nearer�

By: Larry Lipman Washington Bureau March 18, 2007

http://www.statesman.com/news/content/news/stories/nation/03/18/18drugimports.html

Summary:

This article emphasizes the support of Pharmaceutical Market Access Act by Democrats. Many major democratic players brought this legislative bill last year but was rejected. Particulary, Senator Byron Dorgan is most optimistic about the bill. “Dorgan's bill would allow drugs manufactured in the United States and sold to Canada and other Western industrialized nations to be reimported into the United States as long as the Food and Drug Administration approved the "chain of custody."� Dorgan said the Congressional Budget Office has projected that the bill would save consumers about $50 billion over the next 10 years and that the federal government would save about $6.1 billion. A potential veto by President Bush was mentioned, if the bill is not demonstrated to include safety measure of the imported drugs. Another supporter, Sen. Jim DeMint, stated the FDA’s role in the safety inspection of imported drugs is just an expansion of their responsibilities because the FDA already inspects imported food and such. A former congressman and current pharmaceutical company employee, Billy Tauzin, brought up European importation and trade has seen increase in counterfeit drugs and this should be a concern before any bill is approved.


Implication to pharmacy:

This article brings all points of arguments to the drug importation issue. Although prescription drug costs are a large concern, safety and general public health is an issue that should be addressed before American start taking harmful drugs that were meant to be beneficial. As future pharmacists, this does not have a clear impact on our profession. However, whatever outcomes from this long debate, will definitely affect how pharmacists are viewed, as drug information specialists and patient care personnel. Pharmacists will be the primary defense in counterfeit drug identification and drug safety in importation of the drugs. Moreover, the best drug therapy regimens may be a better healthcare expenditure to keep overall costs down. Pharmacists in are in the front lines to help determine the best regimens to be most effective.

Posted by aluong at 11:48 PM | Comments (0)