Healthcare remains one of our most pressing issues as the country gears up for the 2020 election. In addition to concerns over rising health insurance premiums and worry over whether protections for coverage of pre-existing conditions will continue, the spiraling cost of prescription drugs is at the top of the list for a vast majority of people.
Prescription drug prices have increased so significantly that far too many patients are having to choose between their prescriptions and food or rent, with disastrous effects on their health. For many it is now a life or death situation. Imagine, one brand-name drug prescribed for people with type 1 diabetes increased by 54% in 2014 alone, and prices are still on the rise, far exceeding current rates of inflation. Cost increases are across the board, from older name-brand drugs to newly developed drugs and generics. It seems the pharmaceutical industry has us over a barrel and it’s literally killing us. Something has to give.
It’s hard to imagine anything productive coming out of Congress, but we’ll never know if we don’t try. We have one powerful stick to apply. We have a voice, and when we put it together with a multitude of other voices, and translate it into potential votes, it just might attract some attention. Our elected representatives are accountable to us and we need to let them know that it’s time to stand up to big pharma.
I know it sounds like a civics lesson, but what we need is some strong legislation to prevent price gouging on life-saving drugs and get rid of loopholes that let drug companies keep their monopolies on some brand-name medicines. We need to change existing laws to allow the importation of cheaper drugs from Canada, let Medicare negotiate drug prices and apply penalties to drug companies whose U.S. prices far exceed the prices in other developed countries.
Write to your congressman and senators, call their offices and lodge your concerns, blow up their emails and Twitter accounts, organize with other concerned friends and neighbors in your community, attend town halls and make your feelings known when your elected representatives are at home for summer recess. This is not a partisan issue. Exorbitant prescription drug costs are hitting everybody in the pocketbook.
In the meantime, if you are struggling to pay for your prescription drugs, talk to your prescribing physician. You may qualify for a prescription assistance program that can help with the cost of your medicine.
No American should have to choose between eating and paying for their prescriptions.