By working behind a pharmacy counter, you get to know the people you supply medication to and the health battles they face. Whether they’re getting a prescription for allergies or the medications they depend on to prevent a future heart attack, pharmacists work with many health conditions, and we see firsthand how essential our services are for patients, in especially the sickest.
As a pharmacist, one of the biggest changes I’ve seen throughout my career is the number of drugs and treatments that have become available, even for drugs that were thought to be incurable years ago. As a legislator representing Cabarrus, Rowan, and Stanly counties, I learned firsthand how health care policy immediately impacts our lives and the lives of our friends and family.
The biopharmaceutical industry has worked tirelessly to develop drugs and treatments for these medical conditions, devoting billions of dollars to their research and investing countless hours in their drug development, all while boosting local economies. In North Carolina, the biopharmaceutical industry is estimated to have invested more than $648 billion in clinical trial sites, supporting nearly 50,000 industry jobs and generating nearly $75 billion in production economic. Their economic footprint is undeniably critical to our state, not to mention the contributions their medicines and treatments have made to improving the quality of life for the people of North Carolina. Thanks to their work in this field, so many patients have a chance of surviving their medical condition.
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Despite the progress and ingenuity of the pharmaceutical industry, some policymakers continue to portray the biopharmaceutical industry as bad actors in the drug pricing system. It’s an easy talking point for bureaucrats in Washington who want to get voters on their side. However, these drug manufacturers actually offer patients drug discounts to help reduce costs at the pharmacy counter, but greedy Pharmacy Benefit Managers (PBMs) trying to make money take advantage of these discounts. substantial while often requiring patients to pay high deductibles and coinsurance. based on the full list price of a medicine.
As a pharmacist who works directly with patients, I see how difficult it can be for patients to refuse a drug because it is unaffordable. Now more than ever, the demand for reimbursement reform within our healthcare system is needed to ensure that PBMs can no longer overcharge health plans and patients for their prescription drugs.
While reforming the drug reimbursement system is imperative so that PBMs can no longer deprive patients of much-needed discounts to improve affordability and access to our healthcare system, ensure that drugs and the most innovative treatments have a chance to come out of the lab is just as critical. Supporting innovators who invest in research and development of the most fundamental medicines for the most breakthrough cures is essential to improving the health of patients in the United States.
The irony of it all is that while patients complain about rising drug prices, PBMs and other profiteers within the drug supply chain continue to drive up costs by pocketing their rebates; Meanwhile, some policymakers believe the only way to address these concerns is to punish the industry that not only offers drug discounts to patients, but also develops the treatments that patients desperately need. Bad actors corrupt this cycle and take biopharmaceutical companies with them. I implore my fellow legislators to support innovation and punish those who enjoy the fruits of its labor, hurting the people who so desperately depend on them to stay healthy.
Rep. Wayne Sasser (R) represents Cabarrus, Rowan and Stanly counties in the NC General Assembly. He is a pharmacist by profession.