The rising cost of prescription drugs is consuming an ever-larger portion of limited funds for basic health care and other important services in Washington state. At the same time, there are almost one million Washingtonians who go without any prescription drug coverage, including the uninsured and the elderly.
During the 2002 legislative session, prescription drug legislation that would have saved Washington state millions on prescription drugs and extended prescription drug savings to seniors and the uninsured was blocked by heavy lobbying from the pharmaceutical industry. One of the arguments raised against the legislation was that lower prescription drug prices would create a hostile environment for biotech research. However, the evidence shows that the biotech industry can continue to thrive in our state alongside lower drug prices.
Allowing our state to be a wise consumer and to use its market power to rein in prescription drug costs is a sensible, near-term solution to skyrocketing health costs and will allow expanded access to prescription drugs.
1. Fair drug prices will not cause biotech firms to leave the state.
- Biotech companies make location decisions based on the presence of strong research institutions, venture capital, human capital, and overall quality of life.
- Prescription drug legislation to make drugs more affordable in one state does not translate into a hostile environment for biomedical research in that state.
- The global market for prescription drugs determines profits for the bio-technology and pharmaceutical industries.
2. State government has a responsibility to prioritize spending and strive for efficiency.
- Prescription drug costs are consuming scarce dollars needed for other important programs and populations.
- Meanwhile, many state residents have no prescription drug coverage, leading to poorer health outcomes and ultimately costing the state even more for expensive emergency room treatment.
- Two problems – cost and access – can be addressed with one solution – smarter shopping.