Trump Signs Bill to Lower Pharmaceutical Costs

President Donald Trump signed two bills recently, the Know The Lowest Price Act and the Patient’s Right to Know Drug Prices Act. Ever since the inauguration of Trump, he has been under constant scrutiny about his accusations and decisions. Perhaps for good reasons, according to The Fact Checker database which indicates that our president makes 32 false claims per day.

 

Terrible! Just found out that Obama had my "wires tapped" in Trump Tower just before the victory. Nothing found. This is McCarthyism!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 4, 2017

 

Despite this, he has signed many bills and executive orders that have gone through in 2018. 31 to be exact. Most have received serious pushback such starting the repeal process of the Affordable Care Act and signing an executive order to expand border control agencies in early 2017. However, this new bill that has been signed could actually help the best interest of American citizens in the long run. The bills are attempting to prevent “gag clauses” in agreements between pharmacies and the companies that administer prescriptions to insurance companies. Generally, in order to make more profit, these companies will not disclose the cheaper price for the medication, thus costing more for the patient and the insurance facilitator.

 

 

The investigation into these companies only began in 2016, when Trump advertised his willingness to get to the bottom of the price hike in pharmaceuticals during his campaign for the presidency. These new bills will require companies to tell the insurance and patients the cheapest cost for any medication they may need, whether it is mandatory for the patient or not.

This can mean a severe drop in insulin prices, which could potentially save lives. Insulin is a drug that helps those suffering from diabetes to keep their blood sugar at regulated levels. A high level of insulin could potentially take their lives and a low level would most definitely. Between 2002 and 2013, the price of insulin has tripled and for six million people, this is life or death situation.  Without this drug, people living with diabetes can fall into life-threatening comas. Laurie Day, an advocate for lowering the cost of pharmaceuticals and a sufferer of diabetes herself spoke to me about this. She expressed that a single vial of insulin costs nearly $500 and most diabetics, like herself, rely on 2 vials a month. For the unemployed and students, this price is impossible to pay. Diabetics can realistically only live one day without insulin, and yet the prices are depriving people of the drug for months. This bill will not only make lower costs available to patients but the demand for more expensive brands will plummet and in turn, bring down the expense even lower. She mentioned many different GoFundMe links that brought me to people trying to raise money to get insulin and sadly many of these people had already passed away from complications of not having it. Now, with the help of this bill, patients will receive better prices for brands such as Novolin N which only costs $130 per vial, a significantly cheaper option that works just as well.

 

Another life or death drug that will be affected by this bill is EpiPens. EpiPens are a quick and accessible way to stop allergic reactions for those suffering from life-threatening allergies by flooding the body with epinephrine. People with allergies to peanuts, soy, or even melons need to have at least two on their person at all times to ensure that they will not fall into an extreme and potentially fatal allergic reaction by living their life. However, the cost for EpiPens can cost upwards of $700 from only $57 in 2007. I talked to Nadia Stimpel, an LVN (Licensed Vocational Nurse; LPN) and school nurse at a California high school. We discussed the effect the cost of EpiPens was having on her students. She works at a fairly small school but has 10 students that need EpiPens. Due to the price hike, most students cannot afford to have their own and the school system has had to provide a supply in case of emergency. Nadia worries that some students who don't carry their own EpiPen are in great danger if they are away from school and an allergen comes in contact with them. "They will have to call 911 and hope that the ambulance gets there in time," Nadia says. That is extremely terrifying for parents and even school nurses such as Nadia. She also noted that this doesn't just affect students but other professionals at the school that have allergies and are in great need of an affordable EpiPen too. Assistance programs are available through the EpiPen' parent company, Mylan, but they only help a few effected. The bill will make more readily available, Adrenaclick which is a genetic form of EpiPen and cost only $10. The effect this would have on not just Nadia's school but schools around the world would be tremendous. "I would need another Epipen cabinet," Nadia joked. This is extremely important and this bill being passed guaranteed saved lives.

 

This bill will definitely save money, save lives and even out the pharmaceutical markets. To find out more about these bills, a full briefing is available on Congress.gov. Thank you to Laurie Day and Nadia Stimpel for talking with me.

 

Photo credit: Saul Loeb, Tom Brenner, Steve Buissinne, Stanley Morales