AARP on Drug Prices
By David Henderson
A few years ago I finally succumbed and became a member of the AARP. My reason is that it gave me a substantial discount on my eye glasses, a discount that more than paid for the annual fee. As a result I get the AARP Bulletin and occasionally read it.
In the May issue, the cover story was on drug prices and costs. Regular readers of this blog won’t be surprised to know that there was little in it with which I agreed. The “investigate report” doesn’t even mention the role of the Food and Drug Administration in withholding drugs from the marketplace.
I won’t bother going into all the areas in which I disagreed with the story. But, because I’m a glass half full person, I’ll mention two points on which I agree. They are these:
1. The report makes this statement: “Medicare and Medicaid, by contrast, are required to cover almost all drugs approved by the FDA, regardless of whether a cheaper, equally effective drug is available.” This is true–and unfortunate. My view is that Medicare and Medicaid should be allowed to say no to particular drugs. It is this current requirement that gives the drug companies tremendous power to charge high prices to Medicare.
2. The report recommends that it be legal to import drugs from other countries. I agree. I have written about this, with co-author Charley Hooper, briefly here and more extensively here.
My guess is, though, the author, and, presumably, the AARP, want drug companies to be forced to sell unlimited quantities abroad in order to satisfy the huge demand for imports by Americans. That I don’t favor.