The ever-increasing price of prescription drugs significantly weighs down consumers and bamboozles state administrators and legislators. The most affected by the burden of escalating value of the prescription drug price tag are the elderly population. This is because a massive proportion of this population has limited financial capabilities. This places them in a tight spot whenever the sickness strikes and it becomes mandatory to access prescribed drugs. However, the quandary that comes with the escalating cost of drugs has not escaped unnoticed. This is because the public outcry has reached the ears of the lawmakers and the government as a whole. The legislators work day and night to find a way to alleviate the exorbitant cost of prescription drugs. Nevertheless, the question of whether the rising price of prescribed drugs can be alleviated still remains unanswered (Shah, 2006).
The different approaches in alleviating the escalation price of prescription drugs are met with the need to obtain an acceptable point of balance. The balance point focuses on the public interest and the interest of the private drug manufacturing companies to maximize their profits and reap from economies of scale. The solutions associated with these problems are categorized into long-term and short-term solutions (Engdahl, 2008). The short terms solution come in handy in providing immediate solution to the crisis before the implementation of the long-term solution. This is because of the urgent need for a solution considering the need of the elderly to use prescribed drugs frequently and at an elevated rate than the middle age and the young members of the community. On the contrary, this problem affects the entire population irrespective of age, gender, socioeconomic status, race and ethnicity.
Measures for Elevating the Rising Cost of Prescribed Drugs
Current Short-Term Measures
The short-term solution to the escalating outlay of prescribing drugs include immediate importation of prescribed drugs from countries such as United Kingdom and other countries which regulate the cost of drugs. Preventing pharmaceuticals from using brand name and encouraging the use of domestic names and generic products is the first step in elevating rising cost of prescription drugs. The use of short-term solution is deemed desperate and unfit. This is because they tend to place patients in dangerous ground owing to the rise of counterfeit drugs and the possibility of presence of dangerous substances in the imported drugs.
Future Long-Term Measures
The most appropriate approaches for controlling prescription drug cost are long-term safe measures that are beneficial to the consumers. These approaches are safe and acceptable because they effectively balance the ideology of a free market with the health, welfare and interest of the consumers. The first measure involves the diminishing of patient protection terms by providing a variety of cheaper alternatives swiftly. The second approach involves the creation of the administrative committee that ensures drug-manufacturing companies adopt a favorable pricing mechanism that reduces the cost of drugs and maintains a favorable, competitive position in the global market (Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America. 2000).
Measures that Will Work in Alleviating the Rising Cost of Prescription Drugs
The long-term measure will work in alleviating the rising cost of prescription drugs. For example, Federal 340B pricing drug program committee effectively controls the cost of prescription drugs by ensuring that outpatients are accorded discount. In addition, the Arkansas law HD 2498 was passed to ensure that government health centers provide a variety of alternatives of cheap prescription drugs for the public consumers at all time (Shah, 2006).
Comparison and Contrast between Current Payment Schedules to Future Measures
The looming crisis in the escalating price of prescription drugs solicits current measures, as well as plans to combat this crisis. Even though, there are several similarities between current and future payment schedules for these drugs the differences are also significant. One of the emerging similarities is the objective behind the formation of these plans. Both plans extensively aim at reconciling the profit interest of drug manufactures and sellers, with the indispensable public interest. It is a vital feature for current and future payment schedules to protect the public from exorbitant prices, while at the same time, creating a favorable climate for manufactures and sellers to conduct business.
However, current payment schedules focus on short-term schemes of alleviating costs of prescriptions drugs. On the other hand, future payment schedules are long-term. This means that current methods cannot cope with the test of time, which is a vital objective in the formulation of long-term plans. The current short-term solutions include illegal importation of prescription drugs, in addition to the substitution of brand names, with generic names. These solutions have a temporary effect on the cost alleviation. However, they are highly linked to dangers posed to consumers on their safety and health status. Plans for the future seek to eliminate legal issues presented by the inadequate short-term solutions. This will be achieved through the passing of legislative rules championed by a federal committee, which will ensure that production by manufacturers is well monitored and regulated to reduce costs and sustain market competition. This will eliminate the illegality of current schedules that put the Food and Drug industry in jeopardy while at the same time endangering the lives of consumers (Engdahl, 2008).
In the current market, there are massive restrictions against the importation of drugs by individuals, wholesalers or retailers, except through the consent of the (FDA). This arrangement is controversial for increasing the cost of drugs. Consequently, most people indulge in counterfeit drugs imported illegally from pharmaceutical companies in countries such as Canada. Long-term solutions seek to warrant the importation of approved drugs by wholesalers, retailers and individuals to eliminate the threat of counterfeit drugs.
One of the thorns in alleviating high cost of drugs in the current market is the stronghold by the state on every element of the drug industry. Even though, the FDA is responsible for regulating the flow of drugs, it has an extremely limited jurisdiction. However, there is a massive gap between state and federal laws thus creating a loophole, which prevents a comprehensive regulation of the drug industry. Future payment plans seek to relinquish the stronghold the state has on medicine and pharmacology practice to the more than able FDA. Granting the FDA jurisdictional authority is a long-term cost alleviation strategy considering that this organization is well placed to understand and regulate not only the manufacture of prescription drugs, but also the pricing of the drugs (James, 1996).
Current methods of price control hit a towering barrier due to the monopoly granted to some organizations involved in the manufacture of prescription drugs through patents. Moreover, the pricing-mechanisms of most of these organizations go unregulated. Plans for the future aim at reducing the terms of patent protection to allow other manufactures to produce quality drugs cheaply. This will establish market competition, which will ultimately reduce the price of prescription drugs.