High Costs of American Drugs Essay Sample
I believe I was blessed to have been born in America. We are a democratic nation where people are free to follow their own religion, raise a family and pursue a dream. There is a dark side hidden in the shadows of this beautiful country however. This is seen more and more often lately. Financially, America may be one of the strongest countries as a whole. However, the rapid incline of prescription drugs has had crippling effects to many Americans. This especially burdens the elderly population and those on a fixed income. Up against a wall, these people are forced to make desperate decisions. The prices of drugs sold in the U.S. are not simply “a tad” higher. The prices can vary widely depending on the drug. This difference can start out at double for American’s drugs vs. drugs from foreign countries and often rises five times beyond for the same drug. The beliefs of many Americans contrast the explanations given by the pharmaceutical companies. The outlandish prices also have effects other than just the financial burden. Those affected ultimately have to choose between necessities like food and heat or their getting their medications that can be desperately needed to maintain their health. The pharmaceutical companies have been strongly defending and justifying their prices.
They have even spent money to launch an advertising campaign aimed to convince Americans that the high costs are absolutely necessary. This action however can not ease the burdens for those in need. The Life Extension Fund had investigated the prices of sixteen different medications. The findings show that page 2 the prices of U.S. drugs extend far beyond the same medications from other countries. The Food and Drug Administration cites money spent on research as the majority of expenditures. They also suggest that pharmaceutical companies investigate sixty-seven to one-hundred different compounds that may only result in one useable drug. The FDA further informs the public that the development of one new drug may cost $250 million up to $900 million dollars, the average amount being $500 million dollars. Money spent on manpower, advertising and general business costs are also blamed for the outlandish prices. Customers are still scratching their heads however, because even during economic slumps the pharmaceutical companies always have consistently thriving profits. Adding fuel to the fire is never appreciated obviously.
That is exactly what is happening when brand name pharmaceutical companies exploit loopholes to stall other companies from producing the generic equivalents. This benefits the brand name company two fold. With little competition they will retain the consumers, and without generic pricing they have no desire to lower prices. The The government tried to provide help in the form of The Drug Price Competition and Patent Restoration Act. This was intended to increase the number of generic drugs available by streamlining the approval the process. At the same time however, Congress handed the drug industry tools to fight back. Each time one of the drug companies file under this act, they can delay the entire process for thirty months. This of course has ill effects for the people in financial concern. page 3 All of the previous factors limit people in their pursuit of affordable medications. Sadly, it has come to the attention of doctors and family members that their loved ones stop taking some or all of their medications. Those who are determined to find an alternative have been buying from other countries for more than a decade.
The Food and Drug Administration wants to remind citizens that it is illegal to purchase drugs from abroad and bring them into the United States. While they scold consumers they warn that medications bought offshore may dangerous, counterfeit or less effective. Canada stands in defense to such allegations. Several times the Health Minister along with other officials has attested to the idea that Canada holds some of the highest standards in the world. The Food and Drug Administration however respond by searching and closing internet sites that offer medications from other countries. Not everything is black and white, right or wrong. It may be clear in the eyes of law. However that does not mean that the law is just. Because people in the United States carry such a burden of pricey drugs, dilemmas are inevitable. The Food and Drug Administration has a legal right to find and pursue individuals that continue to purchase foreign medication. Sadly, the people they are pressing charges against may be only trying to survive. There is a patient in this country that relies on insulin and heart medication in order to survive. To put things into a human perspective, we will call her Mary. Mary is an elderly widow living scarcely on her social security.
She has little family and they are not in much page 4 better shape financially. If she goes to a pharmacy here in the U.S., her bill would be astronomical. She is on a fixed income and paying this pharmacy bill would leave her unable to by food or heat and electricity. So she has been taking her medicine only once every three days because she believes this is better than not taking it at all. Consequently, she has been hospitalized numerous times this year because of this practice. This leaves Mary and the government with a hefty price tag because the hospital bill will be picked up by them. Mary overhears a friend talking about how they get their medication from another country. They tout that they are only paying a fraction of what they paid for drugs in the U.S. and the medicine works great. Mary asks many questions and is pleased with the answers. She gets the information from her trusted friends and does the same. She is relieved that she can finally pay for her medicine and for groceries! Time passes and Mary has been getting her medication offshore for some time. Then one day she gets a letter from customs telling her to respond as they are holding a package for her.
She does exactly as told and the next thing you know, she is being arrested for smuggling medication into the U.S. Mary may or may not have known that this practice was illegal. The U.S. may still pursue charges against her. Many people are outraged at situations like this. On one hand it is illegal to do what Mary did. On the other hand how can we say it is ethical to arrest someone because it was the only way for them to afford much needed medication? Should the U.S. be able to continue pursuing those people who break this law or change things? Personally, I feel that if one is getting medication for just themselves and page 5 not to resell to others, they should be allowed to take the risk and benefits on their own. If the U.S. is going to stand by and do nothing while millions of people suffer, people should have another option. The scenario given of Mary is all too common and real. How can we ask many like her to choose between their medicine or the heat and electricity? Especially when it is clear that the pharmaceutical companies are in fact price gouging. On top of that is the U.S. Government doing next to nothing to stop it.
At this point in time, the public seems to be between a “rock and a hard place”. If changes are going to occur, they seem to be far off into the future. Advocate groups as well as Congress continue to push the issue to try to get changes on the horizon. The F.D.A. and pharmaceutical giants are seen with an unfavorable reputation. At the same time however, they are continually raking in ballooning profits. The public seems to be the only side that is carrying the burden of the situation, while the other side continues to thrive. It seems to be a slap in the face when the drug companies spend millions to attempt to convince the consumers that the high prices are needed to produce these drugs. Reasons however do not help aid the situation in any way for the people. There seems to be no quick fix for this travesty. Some are still cornered with few options. We can only hope that with constant attention from the government, consumers and advocate groups there may come a breakthrough!
1. www.akpirg.org/Publications/Paying.pdf “The High Price of Prescription Drugs” Date retrieved; Nov. 13th, 2007. 2. www.cnn.com/2004/ALLPOLITICS “Politics” Why We Pay So Much for Drugs. By Donald L. Bartlett and James B. Steele. Date retrieved; Nov. 12th, 2007. 3. www.nationalpriorities.org/Publications “Rising Cost of Prescription Drugs National Priorities Project”. Date retrieved; Nov. 12th, 2007. 4. www.supplementquality.com “FDA Strangling Consumer Health”. Date retrieved; Nov. 12th, 2007. 5. www.forbes.com/home_europe/newswire/2004 “FDA Big Factor behind US Drug Costs” by Spencer Swartz. Date retrieved; Nov. 13th, 2007.