The topic of escalating drug prices has been an ever-present focus for American consumers and drug companies.

Pharmaceutical companies claim high prices are a necessary part of drug development, but consumers view them to be both unjust and unfair. As a result, there has been a growing debate between pharmaceutical companies and state legislators when it comes to current drug prices and what the future holds for many Americans who depend on these drugs.

Recently, pharmaceutical companies and their leaders have been forced to defend their pricing on certain drugs — particularly AIDS and cancer drugs indicating that most consumers do not see the big picture of what goes into make a drug available to the public.

A notable example would be the recent price increase of more than 5,000 percent for Daraprim, which was later reversed. The enormous price increase of Daraprim brought to light the uncertainty that can exist for patients on maintenance or life-saving medications. One day a drug can be affordable, and the next day this might not be the case.

In an effort to combat the escalating cost of drugs, activist groups in California and Ohio have proposed ballot measures that would require state programs like Medicaid to pay for more medicine and provide discounts from drug makers. The ultimate intent is to bring about lower prices, but also to make the pricing more apparent to the general public.

In turn, the pharmaceutical companies are striving to defeat these initiatives. In California, drug companies have contributed $34 million against the measure, which will appear on the ballot this fall. In Ohio, drug makers have asked the state to review the signatures for the ballot measure in a move to derail the effort.

The defense pharmaceutical companies have used for their questionable pricing focuses on the movement toward innovation as it relates to developing breakthrough drug therapies. They also blame the competition that can exist with alternative therapies that are in the market.

Regardless of the purpose, the goal should be to provide patients with affordable, cost-effective drugs therapies that work to improve their quality of life. For chronic and debilitating conditions that impact a significant number of Americans, it is important for drug treatments to be both accessible and inexpensive. This can be achieved through discounted pricing and the availability of a variety of treatment options to select from, if possible.

The issue of drug pricing is one that will continue to be felt among all of the parties that are involved until more definitive actions are taken to regulate and both sides can come to an agreement. If a compromise is able to be reached by drug makers, legislators and consumers, there is the likelihood of fewer disruptions in therapies due to unexpected and fluctuating drug prices.