According to a CBS News report, in 2019 the prices of more than 3,400 prescription drugs have risen —a lot. The report states that the average price rise for these drugs is over 10%, or five times the rate of inflation. Such increases spell disaster for the many people that need them. And the 10% average doesn’t take into account the even higher spikes in price this year of other medications.
The costs of all medical care, and specifically, here, of medicine, have led to a large percentage of Americans skipping medical care and rationing prescription medication in order to make ends meet. This is a crisis by all standards. Whether you believe that a Medicare-for-All plan will ameliorate these conditions, or that more regulation and enforcement will do the trick, it is clear that there is a health crisis in our country—and drug costs are a big part of that crisis.
An example often cited of how insidious these price hikes have been is the case of the lifesaving drug for diabetes, insulin. According to the American Diabetes Association, at least 30 million Americans have diabetes. Of that number, around 7 million need daily insulin shots in order to survive. But because of skyrocketing prices for the drug, at least 25% of patients have been rationing the drug in between paychecks. In another developed country, Canada, patients pay a tenth the price for insulin that we do here. Diabetes is the seventh leading killer of Americans—and it is underreported.
Republicans, for their part, are treating this health crisis the same way they have treated the gun violence crisis—by trying to gum up the works of any meaningful investigations Democratic officials try to mount. They’ve also voted against any legislation that includes attempts to fix soaring drug prices. This has led Democratic representatives to try to help out their constituents on the state level. Democratic Gov. Jared Polis of Colorado recently signed into law the first cap on insulin co-pay costs. The legislation also includes a mandate to investigate how and why insulin manufacturers keep jacking up the price of the drug.