How can pharmacists help combat high drug prices?
Tuesday, May 23, 2017
The increasing cost of prescriptions in the U.S. is an ongoing source of concern for patients, prescribers, payers and even policymakers. The cost of prescription drugs for millions of Americans went up about $2 billion in 2015, and signs indicate that this will continue to rise.
The ability to afford maintenance medications for chronic conditions can be a challenge for those consumers who are unable to keep up with the fluctuating costs. The case of Daraprim brought attention to this serious healthcare problem in 2015.
However, the recent decision by Walmart, CVS Health and several other healthcare organizations to initiate a multimillion-dollar ad campaign to address the high costs of drug prices represents a change in the right direction that could potentially benefit consumers. The Campaign for Sustainable Rx Pricing (CSRxP) aims to hold pharmaceutical companies responsible for the out-of-control prescription drug prices that have become an all-too-common trend for many Americans.
Pharmaceutical companies justify high drug costs by saying they are necessary to fund the research and development of new, groundbreaking drugs that are released into the market. It is reported that pharmaceutical companies can spend about 20 percent of their earning in research and development, which is higher compared to other industries.
The CSRxP campaign challenges this narrative by highlighting the costs that can be incurred by consumers as a result of these practices. Pharmacists and other healthcare professionals can assist with the promotion of this campaign.
Through their day-to-day interactions, pharmacists can educate consumers about the issue of skyrocketing drug prices and the influence they can have on planting the seed to change policies.
For example, pharmacists can inform customers about the availability of brand and generic medications when counseling them on their medications. Ultimately, it is up to the consumers to make the final decision about their drug selection, but pharmacists can help promote what is in the best interest of consumers in the long run.
Consumers can ban to together to notify Congress about the burdens they face with prescription costs, and pharmacists can also echo the same sentiment of hardship they face when making attempts to get these drugs to average consumers.
Pharmacists can work together to construct petitions that can be presented to members of Congress. If the opportunity does present itself, pharmacists can collaborate with their respective state boards and/or professional pharmacy organizations to promote their advocacy efforts, and this can bring additional attention to this important cause.
The issue of high drug prices will continue to be viewed as a burden for all if an initiative is not taken by consumers, healthcare professionals and policymakers. Through the process of collaboration and education, a true change may be observed with drug prices in America.
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