The PIRG platform: allow consumers and state agencies to buy
drugs in bulk through prescription buying pools, increase access
to low-cost generic drugs and provide more information on effectiveness
of similar drugs so the buying pools can get the best drugs at the
To lower the
cost of prescription drugs for all Americans, Congress and the Administration
must take steps to regulate the pharmaceutical market and protect
consumers from the pharmaceutical companies' profit motives and
willingness to deny medication to those who need it most.
should immediately rescind provisions of last year's Medicare law
that prevent the federal government from negotiating with the drug
industry on behalf of consumers. For example, the federal government
should negotiate lower drug prices on behalf of all 40 million Medicare
beneficiaries. The Medicare Prescription Drug, Improvement and Modernization
Act of 2003 (HR 1) signed into law by President Bush in December,
wrongly prohibits administrators of the program from entering into
voluntary negotiations with drug companies to achieve fairer prices.
2) In the short
run, the most effective step Congress could take right now is to
enact legislation legalizing the reimportation of lower-priced prescription
drugs from Canada and other countries with smilar regulatory systems.
should encourage creation of prescription drug buying pools that
would allow businesses, the government and individuals of all ages
to use their combined buying power to negotiate lower drug prices,
as numerous states have done.
should end the practice of direct to consumer (DTC) advertising.
As an interim step, it should close loopholes in current legislation
allowing DTC advertising. For instance, a drug manufacturer does
not have to include information about the side effects of a drug
in a DTC ad, if the advertisement does not explicitly say what the
drug is used to treat.
should place strict limits on drug company marketing to doctors
and health professionals, known also as physician directed pharmaceutical
promotion or detailing.
should fund comparative effectiveness research as a consumer education,
doctor education, and cost-containment measure. More specifically,
U.S. PIRG supports creating a national version of "The Drug
Effectiveness Review Project" created by the state of Oregon.
The state began funding and using evidence-based research (EBR)
related to prescription drugs for its Medicaid program in 2002.
should close the loopholes in the Hatch-Waxman Act, that allow pharmaceutical
companies to use various tactics to delay the introduction of lower-cost