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Increasing Prescription Prices Harm More Than Heal

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The Increasing Prescription Prices Harm Health More Than Heal

You walk up to the pharmacy and give your last name to the pharmacist so you can get your medications. You're just picking up two prescriptions for your child's asthma, no big deal. Then, you hear the price. Startled by the triple digits, you drop your wallet. Three hundred bucks for two medications, is the pharmacist kidding? Unfortunately, he is not. The price of prescription drugs has sky-rocketed over the past 20 years. Why? It's all about monopoly, and not the kind with the iron and the shoe. Large United States pharmaceutical companies have control over the selling of prescription drugs, and they like to keep their prices high. The increasing prices of prescription drugs causes many American citizens to choose between eating and getting the medications they need, forces state governments against the Federal Drug Administration and even some individuals to look to foreign countries for assistance.

Bread or a heart attack? Turkey or high blood pressure? The high prices of prescription medications are forcing many Americans to make the choice between two very different products, but both needed for maintaining their health. According to a report put out by the Center for Studying Health System Change, between 2001 and 2003, the number of Americans that faced problems with buying prescriptions went from 12.0 percent to 12.8 percent. For adults with chronic conditions, it changed from 16.5 to 18.3 percent (Reed, 1). United States citizens are struggling to purchase the medications needed for their health. So, why is the American government allowing its own citizens to either eat or not get the treatment they need when they're sick? Many pharmaceutical companies argue that money for research is the problem. In a report from Harvard Medical School, it estimates that $49.3 billion was spent by drug companies towards research in 2004 (Golan, 39). That's a chunk of change for any company to handle. Yet, the report also states the estimated amount spent on marketing in the year prior. About $25.3 billion was spent by big drug companies towards advertisement of their newest medications (Golan, 39). That's over half of what was spent in 2004 on research. Should advertisement and profit be put before research and development? No. United States citizens are not receiving all of their vital medications because these companies care more for their profit, than the consumers they are supposed to help. Profit, not health, is on the large pharmaceutical companies agenda.

Many state governments have decided to take action against the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the large pharmaceutical companies. The Governor of Wisconsin recently posted a website that encourages Wisconsin citizens to purchase their prescriptions from another country ("Governor", 1). Many other states are attempting to do the same. In a report by Wyn Snow, a program put together by the mayor of Springfield, Massachusetts is discussed, and the people wanting to learn the mayor's program. Springfield now buys drugs from Canada for city workers and retirees (2). The mayor has had states interested in his program; Indiana, Nebraska, North Carolina, and Connecticut all want to learn how Springfield has developed their money-saving plan. With state governments gearing up to face off against the large pharmaceutical companies and the Federal Drug Association, or FDA, the high prices of prescriptions are pitting factions of the national government against each other. The FDA argues that these officials are pushing for citizens to perform illegal acts. Buying drugs and bringing them across the border is illegal.. The FDA and pharmaceutical companies are enjoying their immense power in the United States. These two powerhouses have a monopoly throughout the world. Responsibilities of the FDA include approving drugs, and they can reject or delay drugs that are valuable for patients. In Wyn Snow's report "FDA Strangling Consumer Health" the dangerous impact of FDA power is vivid:

This invisible epidemic is estimated to number at least hundreds of thousands of people. Delays in approval for just two beta-blockers (which were available in Europe several years before the US) probably led to several tens of thousands of deaths (Snow, 6).

State official's rebellion against the FDA is threatening its strength within America, and the FDA doesn't like it. By using cheap tactics, like pushing the legality of drug importation, the FDA attempts to keep hold of its position of power.

Due to the high prices of prescription medication, US citizens are now crossing borders, even oceans, to find cheaper means. While importing these drugs is illegal, Americans are willing to take the chance in order to purchase their medications at a significantly lower price. The cost of drugs is increasing each year by 15-20% (Campbell, 1). By crossing the border, some patients are saving hundreds, even thousands, of dollars. With more and more Americans importing their prescriptions each day, the American medicine companies are threatening to stop exporting their goods to the perpetrating countries. Now Canada, the leading country for American prescription imports, is trying to close its borders. The Health Minister of Canada was quoted as saying, "Canada cannot be the drugstore for the United States of America. Two hundred eighty million people can't expect us to supply drugs to them" (Struck, 1). What is the main reason that the FDA and pharmaceutical companies do not want citizens crossing the border? They say safety--who knows what could be in those strange, foreign, drugs? Yet, Canadian all drug manufacturers, pharmacists, distributors, and wholesalers are required to have a license ("Canadian", 7). Most importantly, if Canadian drugs are so dangerous, where are all of the dead Canadians? Locked in a closet? There is no safety issue in crossing the border. The FDA and pharmaceutical companies are using lies to prevent American citizens from purchasing their prescription drugs elsewhere.

American consumers are exhausted by the prices of American sold prescriptions. The monopoly of the pharmaceutical companies should be stopped, keeping prescription prices under control. Business monopolies



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