A couple of major threats to the health of the prescription drug supply chain are finally getting some long overdue attention.
- We are over-reliant on foreign production.
More than 90 percent of our prescription drugs are either manufactured in China or contain key ingredients that come from China, and China isn’t our best friend. Drugs on this Chinese-sourced list include antibiotics, birth control pills, cancer treatments, anti-depressants, statins (for high cholesterol), and HIV/AIDS drugs.
Why in the world are we outsourcing this mission-critical aspect of American medicine to countries hostile to our nation? (Not to mention the fact that countries like China are stoking the opioid epidemic by exporting deadly illicit Fentanyl to our shores).
Steve Jobs famously took the Obama administration to task over the main reason Apple had 700,000 factory workers employed in China, instead of the U.S: D.C. is not business-friendly and it is impossible to build a factory in the United States due to regulations and unnecessary costs.
Unfortunately instead of cutting the red tape, Sen. Elizabeth Warren and colleagues are proposing exactly the wrong solution to bringing drug production back to the US of A. Instead of unleashing the market forces that built America into the #1 economy in the world, Warren hopes to import the same policies that sank behemoths like the U.S.S.R. and helped ignite the dumpster fires consuming Venezuela and Cuba: nationalized takeover of production.
Even the most profitable industries are not immune to the destruction that government-run production can bring. Case and point: Nationalization has driven Venezuela from oil powerhouse into the poorhouse:
So let’s look for proven solutions instead of dooming the drug industry to a fate of greater drug shortages, stagnation, and even higher prices.
Yes, there is already a sea of red tape and failed policies standing between American patients and inexpensive drugs. Thankfully, unlike Senator Warren, the Trump administration’s FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb MD and HHS Secretary Alex Azar seem truly interested in getting to work cutting through it by unleashing competition not warmed over communism.
Which brings us to the second major threat to the supply chain that is getting some overdue sunshine:
2) Kickbacks to Group Purchasing Organization and Pharmacy Benefit Manager Middlemen.
According to nomiddlemen.org:
GPOs and PBMs are perpetrating “a dangerous and unethical game of ‘pay-to-play.’ It’s the dirty little secret behind the outrageous cost of medications and the shortages of many drug and medical supplies. Unfortunately, a law was passed that allows these medical market “middlemen” to accept kickback payments from drug and medical supply companies in exchange for exclusive sales contracts! It created a government-sanctioned system of racketeering that would be illegal in any other industry.
The FDA along with HHS have signaled a willingness to end the kickbacks. And since the beginning of 2019 Senator Susan Collins and the new Chair of the Senate Finance Committee, Chuck Grassley have also stated they are going to take a close look at these shameful business practices
Bottom line? American ingenuity can solve the problem of rising drug prices. If we will let it.