Azar’s Victory Lap Speech Ignores Prescription Cost Time Bomb Exploding in Consumer Pocketbooks Daily

Feb. 22, 2019

Azar’s Victory Lap Speech Ignores Prescription Cost Time Bomb Exploding in Consumer Pocketbooks Daily

Statement of Peter Maybarduk, Director of Public Citizen’s Access to Medicines Program

Note: Today, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) released its 2018 Annual Report, touting the Trump administration’s claimed achievements regarding health care – including claims of efforts to lower medicine prices. HHS Secretary Alex Azar delivered remarks on the department’s efforts this morning at the Hubert H. Humphrey Building in Washington, D.C.

$480 billion and rising. That is what prescription drugs will cost Americans this year. We should keep this in mind as we assess the Trump administration’s record. Medicines are becoming more out of reach, not less. The administration’s solutions so far are piecemeal and not nearly as tough as candidate Trump promised.

Here’s another key number: 24. That’s the percentage of Americans who say they or their loved ones have rationed their own medicine due to cost.

Also, the number one. That’s the ranked priority that American voters, Republicans and Democrats alike, give lowering prescription prices among all issues before Congress.

There is no negotiating with Big Pharma; no “enlisting all other stakeholders” in the words of the HHS report that will make medicine affordable. It is clear what the U.S. government needs to do: get tough and directly challenge the industry. It also must lead reforms to negotiate prices on behalf of Medicare Part D, block price spikes and begin curbing the monopoly power of prescription corporations.