The High Cost of Rising Drug Prices

Story image for Drug from U.S. News & World Report

During an election year when voters and candidates from both parties registered outrage at high drug prices, the pharmaceutical industry’s most powerful trade group boosted revenues by nearly 25 percent, paying out millions to lobbyists and politicians, according to an NPR report broadcast this week.

Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, known as PhRMA, raised $271 million in 2016, a $50 million increase over 2015, according to IRS filings. The group gave millions to presidential, congressional and state candidates and spent $57 million on lobbying efforts, a two-thirds increase over 2015.

“Does that surprise you?” former PhRMA CEO Billy Tauzin told NPR. When government responds to voters’ cry for lower drug prices, Tauzin stated, “PhRMA has always responded by increasing its resources.”

Lowering drug prices is long overdue, but this report shows what patients are up against. Right now, spending on prescription drugs rises at a rate faster than any other health care cost. Growing numbers of Americans can’t afford their medications, forcing too many to skip them altogether.

Alex Azar, President Donald Trump’s pick for health and human services secretary, told a Senate Committee last month that bringing drug prices down would be his top priority, confirming this is the president’s priority as well. Encouraging words, but choosing Azar as a change agent is ironic.

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