Editor, The average cost of prescription drugs in the United States is double that of other developed countries. As a result, many individuals cannot afford to pay for the medications they need. The non-partisan Commonwealth Fund reports that approximately 20 percent of patients in the U.S. do not take a needed medication because they cannot afford to pay for it.

No one should ever have to forego taking their medication because of cost. The exorbitant prices that pharmaceutical companies charge in the U.S. must come to an end!

Congressional Democrats, and some congressional Republicans, have proposed a variety of plans to reduce the cost of prescription drugs. These plans include: 1) Removing barriers to the development of less expensive generic drugs; 2) Allowing the safe importation of prescription drugs from Canada, where the cost is much less than in the U.S.; 3) Allowing Medicare to negotiate with pharmaceutical companies for lower prices; 4) Capping patients’ out-of-pocket costs for medications; and 5) Using foreign drug prices as a guide to reducing American prices.

Each of these plans would help to lower the cost of prescription drugs in our country. As a result, the cost of health insurance would also be reduced – when insurance companies can pay less for medications, they can charge less for premiums, deductibles, and co-pays.

Bringing down the cost of medications is an urgent priority. Unfortunately, the large pharmaceutical companies are likely to spend millions of dollars trying to stop price-lowering plans from ever being passed by Congress. They will do everything they can to continue maximizing their profits, regardless of the negative consequences for individuals who cannot afford to purchase needed medications.

The power of the pharmaceutical companies can only be countered by the power of the people. If enough individuals strongly and repeatedly communicate the urgency of this issue, Congressional representatives will listen. Our voices do matter, but only if we take the time to make our voices heard.

Please contact Congressman Upton and Senators Peters and Stabenow and urge them to take the necessary steps to reduce the exorbitant cost of prescription medications.

Larry Feldman, M.D.


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