Thursday, October 18, 2007

Hot Stove Lid

Here’s a quiz. Got pencil?

1. Since 1999, what was the average manufacturer’s price increase for widely used brand name drugs? a. 15%, b. 28%, c. 49%, d. 62%.
2. How many prescription drugs does a typical senior take? a. One, b. Two, c. Three, d. Four.
3. What was the price of the average brand name drug in 2006? a. $41, b. $61, c. $81, d. $111.
4. What was the price of the average generic drug in 2006? a. $7, b. 17, c. 27, d. $32.

AARP, the American Association of Retired Persons sent me this quiz, along with petitions for me to send to my U.S. Senators and Congressperson, and a request for a donation to help “continue the fight for affordable health care for EVERYONE.” Here are the answers to the quiz: 1. Since 1999, the average manufacturer’s price increase for widely used brand name drugs has been 49%. 2. The number of prescriptions taken by a typical senior is four. (At last, I am typical at something.) The price of the average brand name drug in 2006 was $111. The price of the average generic drug in 2006 was $32.

For those who look for comfort from the marketplace, not the government, to dictate healthcare, Wal-Mart offers over 360 generic drugs for only $4 per 30-day prescription. AARP did not send me this information. At Publix grocery stores, you can fill prescriptions for a list of common antibiotics FREE, including Amoxicillin, Cephalexin, Sulfamethoxazole/Trimethoprim, Ciprofloxacin, Penicillin VK, Ampicillin and Erythromycin. Guess where I’m going to do more shopping.

In a debate at Dartmouth College recently, all eight Democratic candidates for President spoke on health care. Sen. Clinton said that as President, she would make healthcare reform a priority. Sen. Edwards said he would eliminate health insurance for lawmakers if they did not pass healthy care reform. Sen. Obama criticized Sen. Clinton for her failure to enact health care reform in 1993, because she “closed the door to a lot of potential allies.” He said, “At that time 80 percent of Americans already wanted universal health care, but they didn’t feel like they were let into the process.” Sen. Biden said that Hillary Clinton might have trouble enacting healthcare reform because of her previous attempt.

Meanwhile, Vote-USA sent the candidates questionnaires on healthcare, including prescription drugs. They asked for a general position statement and specifics on issues such as importing prescriptions, medicare drug benefits for seniors, negotiating prescription prices, and bringing generics to market sooner. Sen. Obama answered, “Pharmaceutical companies are selling the exact same drugs in Europe and Canada but charging Americans more than double the price.” Sen. Clinton offered no response to any of these questions. Having sat on the hot stove lid before, maybe she will never sit on another one again, nor even sit on a cold one either. (Daily honor and praise be to Mark Twain.) Sen. Clinton can say or not say anything she likes about healthcare. Everybody is going to believe they already know what she thinks and what she will do. I hope everybody is right.

(Originally posted 10-12-07)

Copyright 2007 by William C. Cotter

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