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March 2017

Drug Prices: What Can Trump Really Do?

Washington Watch

 

In the fall of 2015, Martin Shkreli, the founder and former chief executive of Turing Pharmaceuticals, ignited a firestorm when his company raised the price of a little-known drug to treat toxoplasmosis to $750 a tablet from $13.50.

 

Earlier that year, Valeant Pharmaceuticals bought the rights to a pair of life-saving heart drugs, Nitopress and Isuprel. The same day as the purchase, the company jacked up their list prices by 525% and 212% respectively.

 

Last year, Mylan, supplier of roughly 95 percent of the nation’s EpiPens, an epinephrine auto-injector used to treat allergy reactions, continued to steadily increase its price, from $57 in 2007 to about $500 today.

 

Each time sharp drug prices moves into the headlines, political candidates complain and pledge to do something about it, Congressional lawmakers conduct hearings and legislation is proposed. But drug prices keep skyrocketing.

 

In the 2016 presidential race, candidates Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders all called for action to force drug companies to lower drug prices. Clinton laid out a plan that included creating a government panel that could place limits on drug prices. Trump also called out the industry on the campaign trail, saying he supported the re-importation of drugs from outside the U.S. and that he favored allowing Medicare to negotiate with drug makers on price, something currently prohibited.

 

Those positions disappeared from the health policy he outlined on his transition website and were replaced by industry-friendly language that included overhauling the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

 

Removing the prohibition to let Medicare negotiate drug prices has been opposed by the pharmaceutical industry and leading Republicans, including Rep. Tom Price, R-Ga., whose nomination was recently approved to be Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary.

 

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In the Pool with Old People

Laverne’s View

 

My 30s and 40s brought a slew of ailments and bodily assaults that left my once, near-perfect torso looking like a map of the Manhattan subway system.

 

But, my exterior still looked good, and I had energy.

 

God, I miss energy.

 

It wasn’t until my early 60s that I started to notice obvious signs of wear and tear on my body. It seemed I was losing my battle with gravity, which was pulling me closer to my feet. I could now see that while I had been focusing on gray hairs and wrinkles, my right foot had developed a large red bunion and a hammer toe, signaling the end of sexy sandals. This realization was more devastating than my belly scars. I have worshiped shoes my entire life. My closet overflows with them. I now envisioned a future of frumpy flats and laced orthotics. Almost too painful to think abou

 

Two knee and one hip replacement, along with severe back arthritis, had me leaning on a cane and, occasionally, a walker. I passed a mirror and was shocked to see my posture resembled Quasimodo’s. My head stretched two feet in front of me when I walked, like a periscope in search of land. Hopes of making it with George Clooney had long since vanished.

 

Gravity had also worked overtime on my once perky boobs. I could now tuck them into the elastic waistband of my sweat pants which managed them far more effectively than a sports bra. And, saddest of all, my face had begun to resemble that of a Shar Pei’s.

 

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