Americans are currently plagued with the paradox of having access to the highest quality healthcare while simultaneously being unable to afford prescriptions recommended by their world-class physicians.
As access to health care is a right for all people; the inaccessibility of drugs due to high prices has initiated a battle against the high costs of drugs in recent years.
What is the drug cost battle?
The drug cost battle is the back-and-forth lobbying and lawmaking, taking place to neutralize the cost of the drugs for the American people, and the cost of manufacturing and competition for drugmakers.
What influences the costs of drugs?
Factors that keep drug prices unattainable for many American patients include pharmaceutical monopolies, foreign freeloading, rigged systems, lack of competition, and barriers to entry, such as patent limitations.
What is being done to fight the rising costs of drugs?
President Donald J. Trump drew attention to the problematic high cost of drugs in early 2018 and followed up with proposals to lower drug prices, to expand accessibility to Americans.
Examples of President Trump’s proposed tactics include the following:
- Strip regulatory and patent gaming methods that protect monopolies
- Increase price competition
- Include prices in some drug ads
- Approve more generic drugs
- Accelerate approval of over-the-counter drugs
- Expand outcome-based payments
- Address intellectual property theft
- Provide incentives for not raising drug prices
Old Patent Laws that Might Win Drug Cost Battle
While the Trump administration attempts to tackle the battle on drug costs, lawmakers and relevant parties are arguing for the use of two old patent laws that could provide a way to win the drug cost battle.
Federal Statute on Drug Patents
A federal statute exists to allow the government to assume drug patents and grants them to manufacturers while ensuring that the original patent holder gets compensated.
March-in rights also involve redistributing drug patents, but with a few more stipulations. According to the 1980 Bayh-Dole Act, if the government helped fund a drug patent, and that patent is now causing a threat to public health or safety, the government can rescind said patent to let other companies develop similar versions. The circumstances to enact this offer are particular, but in some cases, it is a viable option.
What does the opposition have to say?
The opposition is largely comprised of drugmakers who see no need for government or third-party intervention. One strong argument from NIH director Francis Collins argues that a high price tag on a drug is not fundamentally a threat to public health or safety.
What else can be done, now, to lower the price of drugs?
As the battle on the cost of drugs continues, invested parties try to find new strategies to combat the high and rising prices of drugs. One of the largest solutions to high drug prices is increased market competition, a hopeful fate we can prepare for, now.
Preparing the competitive landscape
Increasing the competition for a particular drug might begin with patent flexibility, but it is only the start of the competitive environment.
In order to effectively bring costs down through competition, viable variants of the drug must exist, meaning a fellow company has to create the product, get it approved and bring it to market. To make up for future lag time, companies can initiate preparation, now, for the post-patent-permission steps toward bringing an off-brand or generic drug alternative to market.
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