Letter to the Editor: Price setting isn’t the way to go for lowering prescription costs


While I am a strong supporter of his, I’m afraid that President Joe Biden’s latest plan to increase taxes for more prescription drugs and government price setting will not have the desired effect he’s hoping for. Especially given that last year’s Medicare negotiation policies still haven’t even been implemented, I worry that more government price setting will slow the development of new treatments without lowering out-of-pocket costs for patients, which is where policy efforts should be focused.

One surefire way to help reduce out-of-pocket expenses at the pharmacy would be to focus on reforming the business practices of pharmacy benefit managers. These are the health care middlemen between drugmakers and pharmacies, and they currently control more than 80% of prescriptions in the marketplace. They work with drugmakers to secure rebates and discounts for patients; however, they end up keeping these rebates for themselves. While that’s good for their profits, it’s bad for patients who must still pay high out-of-pocket costs for the medications and treatments they need.

President Biden may mean well with his latest proposal, but he should work with Congress to focus legislative efforts on passing true reform — such as the Help Ensure Lower Patient Copays Act, legislation introduced by a bipartisan group of representatives in the House. Ultimately, reforming pharmacy benefit managers will help ensure more Americans can access the discounts they need to reduce out-of-pocket costs.

Bill Chatt


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