A recent report from the National Academy of Sciences is urging the U.S. government to make major changes in the pharmaceutical market to lower the price of prescription drugs.
The report, called “Making Medicine Affordable: A National Imperative,” was written by 17 expert doctors, lawyers and economists, who derided the government and the pharma industry for its inaction on the issue.
Among its recommendations, the panel said that the government should use its purchasing power to directly negotiate with manufacturers over drug costs for patients using programs like Medicare.
The panel’s other suggestions included:
- More government intervention in attempts by manufacturers to delay the release of generics or biosimilars.
- Denying tax deductions for direct advertising to consumers.
- Increased transparency from drugmakers and insurers on how pharmaceuticals are priced.
- Setting a $5,000 cap on the amount of out-of-pocket costs Medicare patients must spend each year.
- Stopping tax and financial incentives for drug development for rare diseases from being used for “widely sold drugs.”
- Tighter restrictions on visits from pharma sales reps to hospitals and clinics.
According to a report in the Los Angeles Times, the industry’s top lobbying group, the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA), criticized the report for rehashing ideas that are outdated and that would “undermine the competitive market that is holding medicine cost growth to the slowest rate in years.”
President Donald Trump has publicly promised to tackle the issue on numerous occasions, and the administration’s nominee to take over the Department of Health and Human Services has vowed to make it a top priority. But so far, the current administration has yet to enact any measures that directly target drug prices. And while many Democrats have embraced proposals such as the ones outlined in the 201-page report, most congressional Republicans remain opposed to such measures.