14 July, 2004, The New York Times: Medicare Law Is Seen Leading to Cuts in Drug Benefits for Retirees
This article was written by Robert Pear. In summary, retirees may lose prescription drug benefits as employers rely on the government through Medicare to pay for prescription drug benefits. The article compares Democratic versus Republican viewpoints and later touches on the possibility of importing drugs from foreign countries. Based on my experience as a physician who just left the "front lines" I have some insight on this issue. The prescription drug bill was passed for the benefit of the pharmacy companies simply to allow them to make more money. With the government backing the medicare population financially, it allows the pharmcay companies to continue to overcharge the general public for prescription drugs. As far as the employers versus the companies footing the bill for health care, I totally agree with the pnhp viewpoints that it is the government's responsibility to provide health care, not the private industry. Health care is a right of every individual, just as we have other public institutions such as police care, fire fighters, education, etc. Pharmacy companies charge far more than they need to and I strongly feel that our prices should be comparable to those in foreign countries. If we have any doubts, look at the salaries that pharmacy CEOs make or look at the millions of dollars they waste on advertising their products on prime time television rather than using those same revenues to lower the costs of their drugs. In summary, Robert Pear's article is informative and it is available at this link for a small charge or you may choose to visit the public library.
26 Sept, 2004 , The New York Times: Medicare Rules Set Off a Battle on Drug Choices
This article was written by Robert Pear. The battle continues. Now the battle is between the pharmacy companies and the health insurance companies. The topic discusses how the Medicare prescription drug law will determine which drugs will be covered benefits. The health insurance companies want as small a list as possible to reduce their costs. The pharmacy companies want as big a list as possible so they can sell more drugs and make more money. The battle is about money and not what is actually best for the patient. The Medicare recipients will have to wait out the battle and suffer the consequences. Neither presidential candidate has a viable solution to correct this problem. It is a well written article and is available at this link.
15 Sept, 2004 , USA Today: Medical Costs Eat at Social Security
This article was written by William M. Welch. Again, it talks about the impact of the new Medicare drug benefit and how it will negatively affect senior citizens. A 65 year old can expect to spend 37% of his or her social security income on medical expenses not covered by Medicare. By 2021 the costs will go to 50%. Someone born today will spend all of his social security earnings towards those medical expenses. The prescription drug benefit is voluntary costing about $420 per year at first with very high co-payments. The new law does not keep down drug costs, in fact it prohibits the government from negotiating lower drug prices. Sounds like the pharmacy companies won this one big time, eh? For the full article which was quite informative, click on this link.
14 Sept, 2004 : USA Today: Prescription for Reform
This is a quite lengthy article authored by Rita Rubin. Clinical drug trials are usually funded by the pharmaceutical industry. This creates a conflict of interest because they want good results. It may be that the bad or objective results are suppressed from publication because they would interfere with sales of the drug. Remember the plot of the movie starring Harrison Ford, The Fugitive ? Doctors who work with pharmaceutical companies are paid very large sums of money for doing clinical studies and also for lecturing to other doctors about different pharmaceuticals. With doctor's reimbursements from health insurance companies shrinking, this alternative income is becoming more and more important to some. What was not mentioned in the article, was the myriad of advertisements on television that consumers are bombarded with every day urging them to “ask their doctor” about this or that medicine. This is a total waste of money. The pharmacy companies should stop advertising and pass on the savings to the consumers. Doctors should be the ones deciding Which patients get which drugs, not commercialism. These ads are purely motivated be greed on the part of the pharmacy companies. for the full article, click on this link.