What are the best and worst ways to address drug costs as part of health care reform?
The pharmaceutical industry last week agreed to lower costs by $80 billion to help pay for health care reform and to narrow the Medicare Part D "doughnut hole," the gap in coverage during which seniors and the disabled must pay the total cost of their drugs. Is the $80 billion enough?
Sen. Olympia Snowe, R-Maine, called it "a modest percentage of the over $220 billion in annual spending on prescription drugs in the U.S." and said health reform could substantially increase drug sales. Snowe and Sen. Byron Dorgan, D-N.D., have pushed for legislation to allow Americans to import drugs approved by the Food and Drug Administration from other countries.
Other proposals would require drugmakers to take deeper discounts in sales to Medicaid patients and allow the Health and Human Services secretary to negotiate directly with drugmakers for prices on drugs for Medicare beneficiaries. Many also want to create a pathway at the FDA for the approval of generic biologics.