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The Costs of Prescription Drugs in Colorado Might Decline ―but Patients are Reluctant to the Proposal

Paying for prescription drugs in the US is more expensive than in other nations, especially when we talk about name-brand drugs that spend considerable budgets on unique advertising. Experts state that the increasing costs of running clinical trials directly influence the product price for end users. At the same time, pharmacy benefit managers negotiate products differently for larger employers and health insurance companies, so there are numerous justifications for this trend.

However, these factors are leading to a declining healthy population, as millions of Americans can’t afford their prescription drugs, especially uninsured people or those with considerably poor health. Therefore, many people skip their treatments and appointments.

The number of citizens without insurance is increasing, putting healthcare companies in financial trouble. A similar case is happening in Colorado, where many people were removed from Medicaid following the pandemic emergency. Since then, the medical community has struggled to keep everything in place, affecting sectors like drug prices.

The costs of prescription drugs in Colorado might decline ―but patients are reluctant to the proposal - AboutBoulder.com

Less costly prescription drugs for Coloradans

The Colorado board considered lowering the costs of prescription drugs, as numerous patients with complex health conditions cannot afford the expensive products, which can reach expenses of $10,000 per month for keeping various problems in control.

However, some are worried that putting caps on prescription drugs, which might happen at some point, will only make pharmaceutical companies withdraw such products from the state or even avoid stocking them. Therefore, businesses would only operate where it would be more financially beneficial, leaving patients with no treatment or limited possibilities.

The government must take an appropriate approach by conducting research in the medical / healthcare sector that offers qualitative and quantitative results, leading to innovative decision-making strategies for both companies and patients.

11% of Coloradans did not take their prescriptions due to the costs

According to the Prescription Drug Affordability Board, founded by Colorado lawmakers, 11% of the state’s population avoid filling in for their prescribed medication because they cannot afford to buy it. While the survey began in 2009, the numbers haven’t changed much in 2023, either, when a recent edition of the research was posted.

While the institutions’ goal was to establish a more significant level of accessibility for drugs, the high costs are impeding it. Finding lucrative answers was even more difficult as people included in the surveys consisted of insured and uninsured, and each would pay a different price for the same drug.

Sadly, patients with severe health conditions fear that such regulation would hinder their accessibility to drugs since manufacturer assistance programs may just leave the state. For citizens, this trial is only an experiment that has the potential to impact them negatively.

Families stressed by officials’ indecision

The PBAD brought considerable concern to people who need specific medications. Last year, the institution wasn’t certain whether to declare a drug used to treat cystic fibrosis unaffordable or not. The problem was that only a few of the Colorado patients with this health condition had their medication covered by Medicaid, making the government pay a massive amount of money to provide the drug. In the end, the medication’s price wasn’t capped, so people could still buy it, but the timeline of the decision-making process was stressful for those who depended on it.

Many of these medications decrease hospitalization time significantly, easing patients’ physical and mental state. However, considering that Medicaid is slowly pulling out from the state, in the future, it may become more difficult for Coloradans to access some prescription drugs.

Less production, more expenditure

According to Statista, prescription drug expenditures increased considerably in the US, reaching $406 billion in 2022. Due to market competition, the US has some of the highest drug prices among developed countries, whereas other states choose to control drug costs in one way or another. Americans need prescription drugs mainly for autoimmune, respiratory, and antidiabetic diseases.

However, it seems like the production rate at which new drugs are released is slowly declining in the US. Based on the Federal Reserve Economic Data (FRED), the pandemic triggered a shortage in the industry in the past years, even if there has been a slight improvement in recent months.

Among the causes we recall is the nature of the active ingredients, as many are grown and produced in countries like China or India due to low-cost purposes. Still, the pandemic made it challenging for imports to increase, and since more patients needed treatment, production declined as foreign supply regulations changed.

Are there solutions to scale the pharmaceutical industry?

Prescription medicines are life-saving, as they allow people to receive proper treatment without being hospitalized and save states considerable financial resources. Unfortunately, supply chain disruptions, lack of transparency, and clinical trial delays are constant issues that affect the end consumer.

Changing and improving the sector requires massive efforts from governments, suppliers, and companies because their interests must align with and consider the patients’ possibilities. Still, solutions exist because the US is able to develop its own manufacturing facilities and stop being dependent on foreign manufacturers that much. Governments should encourage American drug companies to design and establish their own brands so that suppliers and pharmacies will be able to contribute to local economic growth.

At the same time, developing a faster drug approval process is necessary to keep up with the high demand. Experts have noticed an increase in the population’s inclination to develop chronic diseases due to genetic issues, climate change, or new viruses, so emerging problems heavily challenge the healthcare industry. Therefore, clinical trials must be more efficient and rapid.

What’s your take on the prices for prescription drugs?

People with serious health issues may not be able to access their drugs anymore, as foreign trade prices are leading to massive costs that the government cannot support long-term. Therefore, institutions consider capping them, which could make suppliers withdraw drugs from the state. The problem is only a drop in the ocean, as the American pharmaceutical industry needs improvement.

John Mali Director of Media Relations

Director of Media Relations at AboutBoulder.com


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