Drugs - Prescription

Empty Pill Bottles for Bush
Drugs - Prescription

"Iowa first lady Christie Vilsack said she plans to send Bush a message. It's in the form of thousands of empty pill bottles collected from Iowa seniors being squeezed by high prescription drug costs, she said. 'We're tired of listening to the talk about lower drug prices. We want action,' Vilsack said. The first lady visited Oard-Ross Drug Thursday to show faults in the Medicare/Prescription Drug bill and how Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry can fix it. 'President Bush has made a mess of health care for seniors,' she said. For example, Vilsack said, the bill that Bush approved doesn't allow the federal government's bargaining power to negotiate with the major drug companies for better prices. The bill allows companies to make artificial changes to their drugs so that they can renew their patents. This blocks competition from generic drugs that offer lower prices, she said. It also makes buying drugs from Canada illegal, Vilsack said." You go, Christie!

Cost of AIDS medication soars
Drugs - Prescription

bbott Laboratoriesâ?? decision to quadruple the price of its AIDS drug Norvir has the government thinking about an unprecedented action â?? allowing other companies to make the medicine that was discovered in part with federal help. Under certain circumstances, federal law permits the government to â??â??march inâ??â?? and grant licenses for other companies to make the products it helped fund. The government has never before invoked its march-in rights to a privately patented drug, but plans to hold a public hearing on Norvir on Tuesday. Consumers were outraged when Norvirâ??s price catapulted 400 percent late last year to $8.57 a day from $1.71. The price increase intensified a years-long debate over whether Americans get a fair return from a system where they pay the worldâ??s highest prices for drugs even though their tax dollars help fund the research that creates the medicines.

'New Practice of Harassment'? FDA Stops Bus Full of Seniors
Drugs - Prescription

AP: "A senior Food and Drug Administration official said Wednesday that it was unfortunate his agency stopped and inspected a busload of seniors returning from a medicine-buying trip to Canada... The bus-stopping incident occurred last October but wasn't made public until Wednesday, when Sen. Mark Dayton, D-Minn., wrote to the FDA to complain about it. Dayton, a millionaire, donates his entire Senate salary to pay for the bus trips from Minnesota, allowing seniors to take advantage of the much lower drug prices in Canada. A Dayton spokeswoman, Chris Lisi, said the senator only recently became aware of the incident. Dayton wrote that the inspection caused stress for the elderly travelers. 'Is it the beginning of a new practice of harassment and intimidation against elderly citizens who are traveling themselves to Canada to make their prescription drug purchases?' he asked."

States Take the Fight to Get Drugs from Canada Into their Own Hands
Drugs - Prescription

"The new Medicare legislation stripped out provisions both to allow Medicare to negotiate with pharmaceutical companies for lower prices and for Americans to reimport FDA-approved medication from Canada, where it sells much more cheaply. Now the states are fighting back. The WSJ reports that yesterday, Illinois, Massachusetts, Oklahoma, West Virginia, Alabama, North Carolina, Vermont, Ohio, Delaware and Louisiana met with representatives from Canadian drug companies 'to hear their pitch on how to sell the drugs safely and within the law.' The states 'are exploring ways to buy cheap prescription drugs from Canada and make them widely available to Americans, even though importing the medicines is illegal' and 'are looking north of the border to buy prescription drugs for their own employees and for people who are on Medicaid or other assistance programs.'"

Tell Congress - Just Say No To Drug Company Money
Drugs - Prescription

From They're They Go Again: "Drug prices are going up over 3 times the rate of inflation giving the drug industry more profits than all others - the result: seniors can't afford the medicine they need. Yet the new law would PROHIBIT Medicare from getting the best price for seniors (seriously): '[Medicare] may not...interfere in any way with negotiations between...Medicare Advantage organizations...and drug manufacturers..." (Translation: Medicare's got to pay whatever the drug companies want to charge.) This makes the new law a multi-billion dollar subsidy to the drug industry and a rip-off for America's senior citizens."

End Double-Payment for Taxpayer-Subsidized Pharmaceuticals
Drugs - Prescription

Robert Reich writes, "Prescription drugs are the largest single health-care expense for most Americans, especially seniors. And drug prices are rising at a whopping 17% a year, more than four times faster than inflation... Pharmaceutical companies don't own up to the fact that you and I are already paying twice for new drugs. Not only do we pay high and rapidly-escalating purchase prices for them, we also pay through our taxes. You see, a portion of federal tax revenues goes to support drug research. For example, eight of the 10 most popular drugs produced by one of America's largest pharmaceutical companies were developed at the National Institutes of Health... Any drug company that wants its research subsidized by American taxpayers has to limit the price of its new drugs to the direct cost of producing them - that is, materials, factory production, and distribution - plus a fair return of, say, 15%."

Democrats Say Proposed Drug Plan Not Good Enough
Drugs - Prescription

From Reuters: "Democrats said on Saturday a proposed plan to help the elderly pay for prescription drugs falls short and urged older Americans to back a measure that would eliminate benefits disruptions. Sen. Barbara Boxer of California said in the weekly Democratic radio address that the proposal to help Medicare recipients pay for drugs would help some 35 million older Americans. But she said the bipartisan plan being debated in the Senate could be improved. 'The benefit isn't good enough,' Boxer said. 'In fact, for millions of seniors, your benefit shuts down for several months every year even though you're still paying your premiums which the insurance companies can raise, by the way.'"

Senate Votes to Allow Drug Importation from Canada
Drugs - Prescription

"The Senate on Friday passed a measure that would allow U.S. pharmacies to import lower-priced prescription drugs from Canada and sell them to consumers here... The amendment... sets up a one-year trial program under which U.S. pharmacies can buy the cheaper drugs from Canada, which originally bought the drugs from U.S. pharmaceutical companies. Canadian drugs are cheaper because the government-run health-care system, which buys in massive quantities, negotiates directly with the drug companies... The measure, introduced by Byron Dorgan, D-North Dakota, passed 62-28. A coalition of Democrats, moderate Republicans and senators from Northern border states -- where seniors regularly drive across the border to buy prescription drugs -- overcame the objections of the GOP leadership and conservative Republicans... Dorgan said he hopes that opening the U.S. market to drugs from Canada will break what he called a 'monopoly' enjoyed by U.S. drug manufacturers and drive prices down."

WP Sounds Downright Dubya-ous about Dubya's Election-Season Conversion on Generic Drugs
Drugs - Prescription

Bush "moved in the right direction yesterday when he proposed rules that would make it easier to sell cheap generic drugs," says the Washington Post. Bush's "new position is especially welcome considering that he had previously sided with drug industry lobbyists and against consumers. This conversion is going to need monitoring, because it seems to have been made with an eye to the midterm elections. [The issue] has favored Democrats, who have used their control of the Senate to pass a pro-generics bill that the Republican-controlled House has blocked. Yesterday's proposal was apparently designed to neutralize the Democrats' advantage. Because it is only a proposal...there's a danger that an election-season announcement will be diluted once the voting is safely done." Does WP think Bush might be ever so slightly insincere? We think so, WP!

House Democrats Launch Crucial Fight over Generic Drugs
Drugs - Prescription

NY Times reports, "House Democratic leader, Richard A. Gephardt of Missouri, said today that Democrats were circulating a petition to force a vote on the Senate bill, which would provide greater access to low cost generic copies of brand-name prescription drugs. If they get signatures from 218 lawmakers, half the House, they can compel House leaders to allow a vote on the legislation. Such petitions rarely succeed because they pose a direct challenge to the prerogative of the speaker and his party to set the agenda of the House. But a six-month petition drive forced House Republicans to allow a vote on legislation to overhaul the nation's campaign finance law this year. Prescription drugs are already an issue in many Congressional election campaigns. Democrats said they hoped their petition drive would make the issue even more salient." Call your Representative (202-224-3121) and tell him/her to Sign the Generic Drug Petition!

Tell Bush that Seniors Need Drugs, Not Dog Food!
Drugs - Prescription

"Every day, senior citizens are forced to go to extreme lengths to pay for life-saving medicine. Many forgo basic necessities to cover the rising costs of medication. And yet, Bush and the Republicans in Congress refuse to enact the necessary reform to end this national tragedy. It's time to do something about it! First, sign the petition below and tell Bush to stop playing politics and instead to provide adequate prescription drug coverage. To make sure this message is heard, we'll send a dog biscuit to Bush for every signature collected (No Joke). Join the campaign and send a strong message that we will not stand for seniors being treated like dogs. Second, work to elect progressive candidates this fall who will stand up for the needs of senior citizens. It's time to put people in office we can count on to treat all our citizens with the dignity and respect they deserve."

The House Democratic Drug Bill Provides Guaranteed, Substantial Relief for America's Seniors
Drugs - Prescription

According to Ron Pollak of Families USA, "The House Democratic prescription drug bill is an effective and reliable cure to the drug affordability crisis afflicting America's seniors. It will provide real and substantial relief from skyrocketing prescription drug costs that are making needed medicines more and more unaffordable. Unlike the apparent plan being developed by House Republicans, the House Democratic bill provides a clearly defined and guaranteed benefit that will be available to all seniors, irrespective of where they live. This is because the Democratic bill guarantees coverage through the Medicare program - rather than relying on private insurance companies that don't want to offer such coverage, as the House Republican proposal does... The differences in premiums, cost-sharing, amount of coverage, and catastrophic coverage between the two proposals are enormous, and, as a result, seniors' pocketbooks will be far better protected under the Democratic plan."

Thanks to Bush's Neglect, Prescription Drugs For Seniors Rose Three Times the Rate Of Inflation
Drugs - Prescription

"The prices of the 50 most prescribed drugs for senior citizens rose, on average, by nearly three times the rate of inflation last year, according to a new report released today by Families USA. The study analyzed price increases for the 50 most commonly prescribed drugs for seniors for the last year (January 2001-January 2002), for the past five years, and for the past ten years. The report found that last year, nearly three quarters (36 out of 50) of these drugs rose at least one-and-one-half times the rate of inflation, while over one-third (18 of 50) rose three or more times the rate of inflation... 'Senior citizens live on fixed incomes based, at best, on inflation and yet year after year the price of their prescription drugs continue to skyrocket at rates that far exceed inflation,' said Ron Pollack, executive director of Families USA, 'There is no reasonable basis for these alarming price increases, which continue to make prescription drugs unaffordable for too many seniors.'"