Are you sick of seeing costs higher than mount Everest for medication that you need to enjoy a healthy life? Let’s learn together why those prices are so high and what we can do to bring them down.
Hello friend, Hoolio here, your trusted guide on all things HSA! We all know someone, or perhaps we are the someone, who needs medication in order to maintain good health and wellness. However, there’s a big problem when it comes to buying these life-sustaining prescriptions: the price is always unnecessarily expensive. Insurance pretends to help with this distressing issue, but let’s be honest; they never pay as much as we need them to.
I’m sure in such a crisis you’ve shaken your fist and asked, why are my prescriptions so expensive? Isn’t there any way to make them more affordable? Well, you’re in for a treat because I have answers for you! Better yet, I’ll introduce you to our friends over at ScriptCo who have made it their mission to lower the cost of prescription drugs by getting them to you at wholesale cost. (I’m being totally serious, you could literally be saving HUNDREDS a month on your medications by ordering through ScriptCo.) So, as always, buckle in and get your learning hat on!
The High Cost of Prescription Drugs
We’ve all heard it before: there is an effective and well-proven medication that can help treat a life-threatening condition. Maybe it’s for cancer, maybe it’s insulin. But when you start reading into the details, the realization hits that there is no way you can afford this medicine. You appeal to insurance because what else can you do? But after way too many phone calls and hours of being on hold, you find out insurance only agrees to cover part of the cost. And the worst part is; even after all that pain, the out-of-pocket portion is still beyond your budget.
How heartbreaking is it to know that there are so many families and individuals who are not receiving the medication they need because the treatment is too expensive? So, let’s talk about the reasons why this is such a widely known and relatable story.
1. Monopoly Power
In an ideal world, competition would drive down prices, ensuring access to affordable medications for everyone. Unfortunately, the pharmaceutical industry is not immune to the effects of monopoly power. Picture a scenario where a single manufacturer holds exclusive rights to produce a specific medication due to their new drug patent. During this time, no other company can legally manufacture and sell a generic version of the drug. Thus, without any market pressure, the manufacturing company can set prices at will and without fear. This lack of competition allows pharmaceutical companies to enjoy hefty profit margins while patients struggle to afford their much-needed prescriptions. While patents are essential to incentivize innovation and reward companies for their research and development efforts, there is a need for a balance that ensures accessibility and affordability.
2. Research and Development
The path to developing a new medication is paved with challenges and expenses. Pharmaceutical companies invest massive amounts of resources into research, clinical trials, and regulatory approvals. It's a complex and time-consuming process that often spans several years. The costs associated with these stages, including those related to failed drugs, are bundled into the final price of successful medications. From initial concept to market launch, the funds invested in research and development significantly impact the price we pay at the pharmacy counter. Additionally, navigating the complex regulatory landscape and obtaining approvals from government agencies further adds to the financial burden.
3. Patent Protection
Patents play a pivotal role in the pharmaceutical industry, granting exclusive rights to the manufacturer for a specific period. On one hand, patents incentivize innovation by allowing companies to recover their investment in research and development. This protection ensures that companies have a window of opportunity to generate profits and reinvest in future drug development endeavors.
However, the duration of patent protection can directly impact the affordability of prescription drugs. Delays in the approval process and clinical trials can eat into the period of exclusivity, reducing the effective patent life for a new drug. By the time the medication reaches the market, the patent holder may have only a few years left to exclusively sell the drug, resulting in higher prices during that limited time frame.
As we discussed earlier, patents also impede competition, keeping prices high for a longer duration.
4. Seriousness of Diseases
The treatment of serious illnesses often demands specialized and advanced medications. Conditions like cancer, HIV/AIDS, and rare genetic disorders require cutting-edge therapies that come at a higher cost. The development of these groundbreaking treatments involves substantial investment in research, clinical trials, and advanced manufacturing techniques. The complexity and urgency of addressing these diseases contribute to the elevated prices we see on the pharmacy shelves.
5. Lobbying Power
Pharmaceutical companies are no strangers to wielding substantial lobbying power, shaping policy decisions that directly impact drug pricing. Through their robust lobbying efforts, these companies influence regulations, extend patent protections, and impede the entry of generic manufacturers into the market. Their political influence allows them to maintain their grip on high prices, limiting the availability of affordable medications. With this power, pharmaceutical companies invest considerable resources in lobbying efforts to shape healthcare policies and regulations in their favor.
Though the high cost of prescription drugs may appear overwhelming, there are potential solutions that offer hope for a more affordable future:
Fighting Back: ScriptCo's Mission
First and foremost, let me introduce you to our friends at ScriptCo! They are a revolutionary pharmacy that is dedicated to helping customers get prescriptions at wholesale cost. They offer the convenience of ordering online and having your medicine delivered right to your door so you not only save on the cost, but you also save time too!
How does it work, you ask? Well, the first step is to sign up to become a member, then have your doctor send over your prescription through fax or E-Scribe, next you pay wholesale cost for your prescription, then wait for them to be shipped to your door! It’s as easy as that!
And because here at HSA Depot we believe in ScriptCo’s mission and we love what they have done, we’ve partnered with them to get you $25 off your initial membership fee! Head on over to their website and use the coupon code HSADEPOT.
Keep in mind that ScriptCo only sells generic medications, so if the prescription you need only exists under a specific brand name, then you might not be able to find it through them.
In addition to the amazing team over at ScriptCo, here are some other solutions that could help bring down the costs of prescriptions:
Implementing patent reforms that strike a balance between innovation and accessibility can help alleviate the burden of high drug prices. Shortening the exclusivity period for patents would allow generic manufacturers to enter the market sooner, fostering competition and driving down prices. Additionally, exploring alternatives such as differential pricing based on income levels or implementing tiered pricing structures can further promote affordability.
Faster Generic and Biosimilar Approvals:
Streamlining the approval process for generic and biosimilar drugs is crucial. Accelerating the availability of more affordable alternatives can increase competition and provide consumers with lower-cost options. Regulatory agencies can work towards expediting the approval process while maintaining rigorous safety and efficacy standards to ensure patient safety.
Nonprofit Generic Companies:
Promoting the establishment of nonprofit generic drug manufacturers can disrupt the dominance of pharmaceutical companies. These organizations prioritize affordability over profits, fostering competition and offering reasonably priced alternatives to expensive brand-name medications. By redirecting resources towards patient needs rather than shareholders, these nonprofit entities can contribute to a more equitable and affordable healthcare system.
Compulsory licensing is an option that allows the production of patented drugs without the patent holder's consent, under specific circumstances such as emergencies or public health crises. Utilizing compulsory licensing can facilitate access to vital medications at more affordable prices when the need is urgent. This approach ensures that life-saving treatments are accessible to those who need them most, even in challenging circumstances.
As is evident by our exploration today, there are many factors contributing to the high prices of drugs. However, with increased awareness, advocacy, and innovative solutions like those offered by ScriptCo, we can pave the way towards a future where prescription medicines are more affordable and accessible to everyone.
Join the movement for affordable healthcare! Together, let's challenge the broken system and build a healthcare system that prioritizes the well-being of individuals and families across the nation. Because when it comes to health, everyone deserves access to the medications they need.