Support Grows for Legislation to Address Rising Drug Costs

The American College of Physicians testified in front of a Senate Subcommittee in support of the CREATES Act.

The American College of Physicians (ACP) recently testified before a US Senate subcommittee to address how rising drug costs affect patient care and why the organization supports the Creating and Restoring Equal Access to Equivalent Samples (CREATES) Act.

The CREATES Act was recently introduced in hopes of potentially increasing access to generic drugs. The bill was introduced by both Democratic and Republican Senators who hope to stop pharmaceutical companies from limiting access to generics for financial gains.

Nitin S Damale, MD, MS, FACP, president of ACP testified before the Senate committee and spoke on behalf of the organization, according to the press release from ACP.

“The reasons for the rise in drug prices are complex, with many overlapping and interconnected moving parts,” Dr Damale said. “Therefore, various components have been mentioned as contributing to the rise in prescription drug costs, including lack of pricing transparency, regulatory barriers, a shortage of comparative clinical data between the cost-effectiveness and value of a drug, health plan benefit structures, and loopholes that allow companies to extend monopolies on brand-name drugs to keep lower-cost alternatives out of the market. These issues must be dealt with to achieve meaningful change, and it will take an act of Congress to do it.”

The recent price increases were seen across disease treatments, especially in life-threatening diseases such as cancer. The ACP believes the CREATES Act could help lower overall drug costs, along with out-of-pocket costs that some patients cannot afford.

According to the testimony, patients do not adhere to treatment, ask for lower costing medications, purchase drugs from other countries, or use alternative treatments to reduce these high out-of-pocket costs.

“Rising and unsustainable drug prices also will put a strain on Medicare, Medicaid, and other payers’ expenditures, forcing trade-offs as more dollars need to be allocated to support excessively priced medication at the expense of reduced benefits for other needed services, higher premiums, and higher taxes,” Dr Damale said.

A patient with asthma who has a high cost plan cannot afford their medication, an emergency room visit, and hospitalization since there are no generic drug options, according to the testimony.

Patients who cannot afford to adhere to their medication risk more serious health conditions, which can lead to even higher medical costs. The ACP believes programs that increase competition between generic and branded drugs are needed.

“Generic drugs in the past have traditionally encouraged competition and driven costs down,” Dr Damale said. “When the patent protection for many branded drugs expired in 2012, resulting in a flood of new generic drugs entering the marketplace, there were considerable savings.”

Through the CREATES Act, more generics will be on the market, and prices could potentially drop. New, lower cost treatment options could potentially be created as well.

“The Act will remove a delaying tactic used by a few name-brand manufacturers and make it easier and faster for other manufacturers to pursue bringing lower-cost alternatives to market and increase patient access by increasing competition,” Dr Damale concluded.