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Arnold: Lawmakers must take a stand against Big Pharma


American consumers, families and patients are struggling far too often to afford their prescriptions.

Prescription drug prices have been out-of-control and instead of putting forth solutions that will actually address the root problem — Big Pharma’s anti-competitive price-gouging tactics that allow them to set high prices — Congress is threatening to make matters worse by advancing policies that will eliminate our pharmacy benefits.

Pharmacy benefit companies are the actors that employers, including small businesses, rely on to be able to have flexibility and a wide range of choices to offer quality and affordable prescription drug coverage for their employers. For employers and unions alone, pharmacy benefit companies save more than $800 per patient per year on prescription drug costs.

Yet instead of protecting these cost-saving benefits, certain legislators in Congress are choosing to side with the pharmaceutical industry and help them boost their profits.

Big Pharma is the root cause of high prices. In the first two weeks of the year, big drug companies hiked the prices of nearly 600 brand name drugs. Their abuse of the patent system on just five brand name drugs has costs ranging from $1.8 billion to $7.6 billion due to delayed competition due to these patent thickets.

Any proposal that limits pharmacy benefit companies is buying directly into what Big Pharma wants and our senators, Kyrsten Sinema and Mark Kelly should reject these pricing schemes and instead side with Arizona families and patients.

Thankfully, Senator Sinema has already taken steps in the right direction, showing Arizonans that she’s willing to stick up for what’s right, when she opposed one recent measure targeting our pharmacy benefits. Senator Sinema knew to put families and patients first and protect the very entities that make prescriptions more affordable. Now we need other lawmakers to do the same.

The legislators backing policies that will increase prescription drug costs and help big drug companies earn a bigger pay day? Lawmakers like extreme left-leaning Senator Bernie Sanders, as his latest attempt at a Medicare-for-All type country to push new government mandates targeting our pharmacy benefits. His socialist counterpart on the House side, Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez used a hearing on pharmacy benefit companies as an opportunity to push the country towards a nationalized health care system saying that by restricting pharmacy benefits, it “made the case for Medicare-for-All to reduce drug costs for everyone.”

Why would self-proclaimed socialists like Senator Sanders side with the pharmaceutical industry? Because it helps their larger agenda to push the country towards a nationalized system. Despite being someone who claims to hate big corporations and corporate greed, he’s willing to help Big Pharma, who’s responsible for out-of-control prices, get a bigger pay day if it means getting us closer to a Medicare-for-All system.

These policies target the one check against them, pharmacy benefit companies, all so Big Pharma can get their payday and socialists can advance their political agenda. Our lawmakers have the power to stop them and put a real check on these egregious pricing tactics that are hurting too many Americans.

Arizona families need access to quality, affordable pharmacy benefits so we can access the prescriptions we need to stay healthy. Recent proposals targeting pharmacy benefit companies on Capitol Hill will increase costs for families and patients, make things more difficult for employers by taking away the flexibility they need to offer quality health care coverage and give the government the opportunity to take away choice in health care.

Worst of all, these policies will reward big drug companies for price gouging the American people and help them avoid accountability for the integral role they play in setting increasingly high prices.

We need to address the affordability crisis in our prescription drug supply chain, but the recent policies being proposed are not the right answer.

Editor's Note: John Arnold is a Scottsdale businessman and former candidate for Arizona House of Representatives District 4.