Doctors in US and Canada launch sweeping pharmaceutical reform proposal

May 17, 2018

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- The skyrocketing cost of prescription drugs is one of the biggest concerns for American voters. However, in his proposal last Friday, President Donald Trump failed to offer any new policies that would expand access, reduce costs, or increase the safety and efficacy of prescriptions.

Today, a group of 21 prominent physicians published a comprehensive proposal to ensure universal access to safe, innovative, and affordable medications. "Healing an ailing pharmaceutical system: prescription for reform for the U.S. and Canada," identifies seven critical areas for reform, along with both short- and long-term solutions to improve the development, approval process, affordability, and marketing of medications: "Our pharmaceutical system prioritizes industry profits over public health, but it doesn't have to be this way," said Dr. Adam Gaffney, a critical care physician and faculty member at Harvard Medical School, and co-chair of the Pharmaceutical Reform Working Group. "Through a series of commonsense reforms, we can increase the affordability, safety, and effectiveness of medicine for our patients."

Dr. Gaffney warned that combating the power of major pharmaceutical firms won't be easy, noting that the industry spent a combined $171 million on lobbying last year. "Every year we wait for reform means another spike in drug prices," he said.

"The pharmaceutical industry directly funds the regulating arm of the FDA, and paid more than $800 million in user fees in 2017," said Dr. Sidney Wolfe, founder of Public Citizen's Health Research Group. "The FDA's independence is too important to expose to the influence and money of the industry." Dr. Wolfe added that increasing affordability of lifesaving therapies should be a national priority. "Lack of access to medicines results in preventable deaths and serious illness to hundreds of thousands of patients a year," he said.
-end-
"Healing an ailing pharmaceutical system: prescription for reform for U.S. and Canada," by Adam Gaffney, M.D., and Joel Lexchin, M.S., M.D., British Medical Journal, went online today (May 17, 2018). The writing committee includes Marcia Angell, M.D., Michael Carome, M.D., Steffie Woolhandler, M.D., M.P.H., David U. Himmelstein, M.D., Gordon Schiff, M.D., and Sidney Wolfe, M.D.

The full proposal and supplemental materials can be found at http://www.pnhp.org/pharma.

Physicians for a National Health Program is a nonprofit research and education organization whose more than 22,000 members support single-payer national health insurance.

Physicians for a National Health Program

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