It’s 2024 and you’re about to pay even MORE for medicine. Unless of course SOMETHING changes…

We have all had our various health issues as we work hard and age. Goodness knows we’ve had our fair share at the Right Scoop. And because of that, money and prescription medicine and waiting for medical care have been weighing on my mind the last year especially. But everyone has to think about it now and then.

Now you may be wondering, why is Fred bringing this up? And hasn’t he been on partial hiatus? Well, when policy is important to your daily life, it can motivate you to look into it more closely. SO as January comes to a close it occurs to me that a lot of folks might have, coming out of the holidays and into the primary and election season in earnest, missed reporting from Reuters that Big Pharma is set to raise prices — AGAIN — on more than five hundred medications.

The word for that is inflation. Which we have an overabundance of in this country thanks to guess who.

Now although drug price inflation is rising at a slower rate than it once was, the cost of pharmaceuticals is still increasing. 3 Axis Advisors, the ones who identified that drug prices are again going up, point to median drug price increases of about 5 percent per year since 2019.

If that five percent doesn’t sound too terrible compared to, say, how much more you’re paying for gas and waffles, in medication 5% is huge.

Think about this. Inflation in general has been crippling to the American consumer. And that long-term inflation rate, if you factor in the last five years, is about 3.3 percent – not to say it wasn’t much higher (double that) in some years (Biden years).

But what that shows by comparison is that pharmaceutical companies are going to do better with their price hikes than most of us will with any wage or salary increases. Happy New Year to you.

What makes this even more maddening to your average American is that this price-hiking is occurring WHILE pharmaceutical companies are raking in record profits (with Pfizer passing the $100 billion annual revenue mark — gee wonder why that is?), and Novo Nordisk, the maker of famed weight-loss drugs Wegovy and Ozempic, now has a higher market capitalization than the yearly GDP of Denmark — which is by the way the company’s own home country.

And it gets worse. Biden’s platform in 2020 on drug pricing when he was running for President was to “put a stop to runaway drug prices and the profiteering of the drug industry.”

Cut to 4 years later — an election year when he’ll be making excuses for why that happened in his first term and promises not to do it again this time. Oh and of course blaming Republicans for his mess.

This leaves Americans looking for solutions with a handful of options beyond hoping their insurance plans manage to negotiate better drug prices– something that incidentally might become more tricky depending on exactly what legislation, if any, Congress moves on the complicated issue of Prescription Benefit Managers or PBMs.

Donald Trump is the de facto GOP presidential nominee as of now, no question; in his prior term, he pushed aggressive policies to bring down drug prices, though the courts blocked some and his drug re-importation plan is only now taking effect and only in Florida. And in his second term, he will probably push harder, although the outcome isn’t sure and it could take time going a traditional route.

A more immediate solution in the here and now is GoodRx and pharmaceutical couponing — something I do and I bet y’all too. But that’s no guarantee.

There is something less hit or miss, though. A program called 340B that’s been in effect for over 30 years that costs taxpayers nothing, and, as a sort of swap for giving them access to entitlement monies, requires pharmaceutical companies to sell drugs at a discount to benefit rural and low income patients.

And now you know why your friend Fred is talking about this.

Let’s not forget that Big Pharma worked to pass Medicare Part D and Obamacare — but now, after having set themselves up to benefit from bigger, more expansive entitlements, they want to cut this program. Now that they’ve got their way, they want to eliminate the drug discount program that was set up by federal legislation all the way back in 1992. A program that works for demographics that — how can I put this — ain’t fans of rich men north of Richmond?

Now, another real-world, right now solution is a GOP-led movement to push back against pharmaceutical companies for overcharging for insulin. This last one comes thanks to red state Attorneys General who have scrutinized pharmaceutical sector behavior with regard to insulin pricing and concluded that it falls afoul of a bunch of law– and who have moved over the last few years to litigate against insulin-makers. Perhaps not coincidentally, the aforementioned Reuters report does note some insulin price reductions. Republicans looking out for Republicans? Unfamiliar sensation these days.

And I just want to mention one more thing because it is relevant: Mark Cuban and his Cost Plus Drugs, which is reportedly doubling the number of medications they are offering as of this month. I’m just saying, I don’t have to like my Walmart’s manager to shop there, you know what I mean?

None of these solutions has anything whatsoever to do with President Biden or his fellow Democrats, go figure. Solutions are the thing they don’t do. It’s like their kryptonite. And working for the voters is like their garlic. You know, because they’re vampires?

Yet the press continue to act like it’s Democrats who are out there trying to govern in a way that benefits working class folks. Elites protecting elites.

So sure, the Trump-hating Shark Tank billionaire and the Trump-hating ex-president George H.W. Bush aren’t who I want to go hunting with. But they aren’t Biden and they aren’t Obamacare, which is something, and they’re offering something of use. And Republican attorneys general and governors are out there offering solutions. And President Trump worked hard (and had his work undone by Biden) and will work even harder in his second term for the same basica goal. It’s a motley, strange set of bedfellows, but sometimes that’s how things get done. By focusing on who you are against. You know, Joe Biden and his America-destroying administration. The actual bad guys. (Something to think about in a lot of contexts this year, right?)

I just thought I’d be one of the good guys for once and point it all out.

The prices we pay for things has become a major focus for me, both in the grocery aisle and the prescriptions line, for a lot very daily life reasons. And I am probably going to have a few more topics along those lines.

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