Common Ground: The Cost of Prescription Drugs

02/05/2018 05:59 PM

In a time where political polarization is at an all time high—we are trying to find where politicians agree on important issues. This week in Common Ground we take a look at the cost of prescription drugs.

Prescription drug prices in America are some of the highest in the world. It’s not uncommon to read about life saving drugs costing thousands of dollars for patients. For instance, AARP reports the new cancer drug, Bavencio, costs about $156,000 a year per patient. The cost of insulin has tripled from 2002 to 2013, and the living saving EpiPen, has seen the price jump by 500 percent since 2007. This issue has become a popular issue on the campaign trail for both Democrats and Republicans.

Recently, in President Trump’s State of the Union address he took on the skyrocketing costs of prescription drugs vowing to bring the cost down.

“One of my greatest priorities is to reduce the price of prescription drugs. In many other countries, these drugs cost far less than what we pay in the United States. And it’s very, very unfair. That is why I’ve directed my administration to make fixing the injustice of high drug prices one of my top priorities for the year. And prices will come down substantially. Watch.” he said.

U.S. Representative John Yarmuth, D-Louisville, doesn’t agree with the president on very much but bringing the cost or prescription drugs down is something that he says he does agree with the president on. Representative Yarmuth has long been an advocate for health care and making prescription drugs affordable for seniors.

Of course, while both sides agree that the cost needs to come down, they vary on how to do it. When President Trump swore in the new Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar in January, Azar said addressing the cost of prescription drugs was a central part of his agenda. He said he planned to encourage the development of generic drugs, and look at ways to press pharmaceutical companies to reduce the list price of the drugs. But, critics are skeptical of his claims because Azar comes from Eli Lilly, a pharmaceutical company that made headlines for raising the price of insulin.

While promises to lower prescription drug prices are politically popular, the practice to do so is complicated. The pharmaceutical industry has successfully shifted the blame of high prices onto health insurance plans and pharmacy benefit managers. While the FDA approved 1,000 new generic medications in 2017, no laws to actually regulate the cost that companies charge is in the works. Drug companies prefer to market the cheaper generic drugs than have the government regulate their prices. Bottom line, it could be awhile before consumers see some type of regulation to keep drug prices down.

Watch the segment:

Michon Lindstrom

Michon is a producer for Pure Politics. Michon comes to Kentucky from Springfield, Illinois where she served as the statehouse reporter for the NBC affiliate. During her time in the Land of Lincoln she covered the state’s two year budget impasse and the largest school funding overall in Illinois history. Pure Politics airs weeknights at 7 and 11:30 on Spectrum News. Follow Michon on Twitter at @MichonLindstrom or reach her by email at


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