December 20, 2018

Vox: Elizabeth Warren’s ambitious new bill to lower generic drug prices, explained

Warren’s interesting new bill to lower generic drug prices, explained.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL) would like the federal government to start manufacturing prescription drugs when the market fails and prices for certain medications become unaffordable.

It’s an interesting idea, experts who lean right and left agree. But more than that, it is a reminder that there are all kinds of creative ways we might go about bringing down drug prices. We know Americans are really worried about drug costs — six in 10 people take a prescription and 80 percent say the cost of drugs is unreasonable — and they really want Washington to do something about it. The issue always ranks as one of the public’s top health priorities for Congress.

But the debate tends to get bogged down for a few reasons. Pharma is a powerful lobby that warns sternly about the threats to innovation under stricter price controls. The system that produces medications and distributes them to patients and pays for them is stunningly complex, making the problems and any unintended consequences difficult to identify. As a result, the bills introduced or the administrative actions pursued to lower drug prices tend to be technical and small-bore and simply unsatisfying to a public desperate for a solution.

One response to this minefield is to, as President Trump has, simply promise that drug prices will come down, some way, somehow, sooner or later — and then they don’t. But Warren and Schakowsky’s bill is a good reminder of the untapped potential for lowering drug prices, if only we think a little bigger.

Read more on Vox's website here.

By:  Dylan Scott
Source: Vox