drug prices

Sudeep Taksali, an orthopedic surgeon, became worried that his 8-year-old daughter had already grown taller than his 12-year-old son. And sometimes she had an attitude that seemed more fitting for a teenager too. Something seemed wrong.

Taksali and his wife, Sara, realized their daughter had grown 7 inches in two years and she was showing signs of puberty. They took her to the doctor, who referred her to a pediatric endocrinologist for a work-up.

The majority of Americans have health insurance that includes coverage for prescription drugs. But unfortunately that doesn't ensure that they can afford the specific drugs their doctors prescribe for them.

In fact, many Americans report that their insurance plans sometimes don't cover a drug they need — and nearly half the people whom this happens to say they simply don't fill the prescription. That's according to a poll released this month on income inequality from NPR, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

Lawmakers are back on Capitol Hill on Monday after an extended summer recess with a short window to tackle major legislative priorities before the 2020 presidential campaign takes center stage.

Vendors, Critics Show Interest In Canadian Drug Importation Plan

Aug 2, 2019

Florida’s initial effort to gauge interest in the operation of a Canadian drug importation program has drawn more letters of concern from critics than responses from those seeking to participate in the program.

The Agency for Health Care Administration issued a request for information from potential vendors in late May, after state lawmakers approved the drug-importation plan. During a month-long response period, two vendors --- Ernst & Young and Maximus --- responded to the agency’s request.

In Florida, Gov. Ron DeSantis signed a bill last week that, if federal authorities give it their go-ahead — still a very big if — would allow his state to import prescription drugs from Canada. That makes Florida the third state to pass such a law, joining Vermont and Colorado. More such legislative attempts are in the works.

DAYLINA MILLER/WUSF

Floridians spend a lot on prescription drugs -- more than $30 billion last year, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation. Now at least some Florida lawmakers say they have a way to save consumers money on drugs: get them for less from Canada.

In his first weeks in office, Gov. Ron DeSantis proposed the idea of the state importing drugs from Canada. State lawmakers quickly took up the idea. They say that could save Floridians up to 80 percent on what they currently pay for drugs.

Drug Importation Vote Delayed

Apr 5, 2019

A Senate health care panel ran out of time Thursday and was unable to consider a measure aimed at allowing imported prescription drugs from Canada. 

On Tuesday, Kenneth Frazier, CEO of pharmaceutical giant Merck, is set to face senators who say drug costs are "sky-high" and "out of control."

But Frazier doesn't need new talking points. Sixty years ago, a different panel of senators grilled a different Merck boss about the same problem.

To a striking degree, the subjects likely to surface Tuesday — high drug prices and profits, limited price transparency, aggressive marketing, alleged patent abuse and mediocre "me too" drugs — are identical to the issues senators investigated decades ago, historical transcripts show.

Trump Highlights Health Agenda With Vow To Lower ‘Unfair’ Drug Prices

Feb 6, 2019

It was not the centerpiece, but health was a persistent theme in President Donald Trump’s State of the Union address at the Capitol on Tuesday night. 

The skyrocketing cost of many prescription drugs in the U.S. can be blamed primarily on price increases, not expensive new therapies or improvements in existing medications as drug companies frequently claim, a new study shows.

The Trump administration says it plans to change how Medicare pays for some expensive drugs for cancer and arthritis in a move to bring the costs more in line with the prices paid in European countries.

"For decades, other countries have rigged the system so that American patients are charged much more," President Trump said Thursday in a speech at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, which administers Medicare. "American patients pay more, so other countries can pay less."

No More Secrets: Congress Bans Pharmacist ‘Gag Orders’ On Drug Prices

Oct 10, 2018

For years, most pharmacists couldn’t give customers even a clue about an easy way to save money on prescription drugs. But the restraints are coming off.

When the cash price for a prescription is less than what you would pay using your insurance plan, pharmacists will no longer have to keep that a secret.

Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar has this pen. It's not all that remarkable looking, but he held it up multiple times Monday at a briefing with reporters.

"This pen," he said, "has a lot of power."

And he said he is prepared to use it.

Azar was making the point that in the area of drug prices, the head of HHS — which runs the Medicare and Medicaid programs and buys about $130 billion in prescription drugs each year — can make a lot of changes in the pharmaceutical market. And he doesn't need congressional approval to do it.

States are continuing to do battle with budget-busting prices of prescription drugs. But a recent federal court decision could limit the tools available to them — underscoring the challenge states face as, in the absence of federal action, they attempt on their own to take on the powerful drug industry.

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