Opinion | Virginians need lower drug prices

The drawback right here is evident: Prescription drug prices simply maintain going up. Prices for the medicines we need to maintain ourselves and our relations wholesome, and sometimes to save lots of our lives, have elevated 33 percent since 2014. They’re rising faster than different medical companies, together with inpatient hospital care, and the issue has solely gotten worse throughout the pandemic. In the previous yr, drug firms have truly increased prices on 245 medications, together with lifesaving most cancers medicine and — I child you not — some medicines which are getting used to deal with covid-19, the illness attributable to the coronavirus.

There is not any query that pharmaceutical firms — and partnerships between them and our authorities — play a crucial function in growing life-saving medicines for Virginians and Americans, together with crucial coronavirus vaccines. But there may be additionally no query that for many years, this trade has been ripe with pointless middlemen, rampant profiteering and secret backdoor offers, and that these firms’ backside line comes first.

Enough is sufficient. On Thursday, I launched my Prescription For a Healthier Virginia with a daring, aggressive plan to tackle this rigged, predatory system. Virginians deserve transparency in drug pricing, accountability from these firms and their executives, and the peace of thoughts that they received’t be pressured to decide on between taking their medicines and feeding their households.

I wish to defend customers from value gouging by establishing a prescription drug accountability division inside the State Corporation Commission, a state company with actual tooth that already regulates the insurance coverage trade. It would intervene and set limits for drug prices, make producers defend tried value will increase and maintain high-cost medicine reasonably priced. I can even additional regulate pharmacy profit managers — the mysterious industry middlemen that reside and revenue between insurers and pharmacies — and revoke their licenses to function in Virginia if we catch them participating in predatory practices.

For too lengthy, pharmaceutical value will increase have thrived at midnight. Between drug firms and middlemen, secret negotiations, rebates and reductions and simply plain greed, it may be unimaginable to inform what’s behind a drugs’s value. If elected, I’ll move a prescription drug value daylight legislation that provides Virginians clear details about the price of their medicine and the actual purpose for any value enhance. We’re going to shine a shiny mild on these firms’ pricing practices. If they aren’t preying on Virginians, they need to don’t have anything to cover. Virginia ought to have the bottom potential drug prices, and we’re not going to go away a single greenback on the desk. We’ll pool our buying energy on the state stage to maximise our negotiating energy and have a look at creating multistate buying swimming pools. We’ll discover bulk-purchasing choices to lower shopper prices, particularly for expensive medicine and coverings, and institute a pharmacy profit carve-out mannequin for Virginia’s Medicaid program that can save our state tens of tens of millions of {dollars}. And I’ll name on the Biden administration to offer Virginia approval to import choose medicine from Canada, the place customers pay about one-third of the drug prices we do.

I’m not afraid of a troublesome struggle. As Virginia’s 72nd governor, I fought tirelessly in opposition to a radical Republican legislature that refused to develop Medicaid below Obamacare (you’ll must ask them why they thought 400,000 Virginians didn’t deserve well being care). In the face of their relentless obstruction, we nonetheless prolonged health-care protection to 1000’s of Virginians via my Healthy Virginia Plan, and we laid the groundwork for the profitable passage of Medicaid growth just a few years later.

Standing as much as these pharmaceutical firms and delivering actual value transparency and accountability for Virginians goes to take large, daring management. But mark my phrases: We’re going to get it accomplished, and Virginia will lead the nation in placing our residents first.

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