On a hot August day I was filling a prescription at my local drug store when the personal impact of drug prices became evident. Three older adults were in the pick-up line ahead of me; each of them walked away without their prescribed drug. The obviously treasured cards they believed would cover their prescriptions were refused for various reasons—the drug was not covered by the plan, the co-pay was higher than the actual cost, or the plan was not current. Each found the out-of-pocket cost unaffordable.
As this played out in front of me, while understanding this was just a snapshot in time, the message was profound. How often does this scenario happen? Are particularly older adults going without needed drugs? How is their health impacted? Where can they get help?
The issues—and potential solutions—are complex. On September 9, 2021, the President signed Executive Order 14036 “Promoting Competition in the American Economy” which offers three economic principles for the proposed Drug Pricing Plan on which to base drug pricing reform: competition, innovation, and transparency.
One stated goal of this Plan is to support drug price negotiation with manufacturers to make drugs more affordable and equitable for all consumers. This includes Medicare Parts B and D negotiations, with Part D protections for unaffordable out-of-pocket costs and Part B supporting increased use of biosimilars by clinicians. This strategy offers new hope for better health and greater economic stability, particularly for older Americans.