Dropping prescription drug prices is a matter of racial justice

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SSome Democratic members of Congress are trying to block historic economic investments promised by the Biden administration, including a provision that could lower the cost of prescription drugs. By obstructing efforts to reduce prescription drug prices, these lawmakers are hindering racial fairness.

In a December 2020 article, the Patients for Affordable Drugs Now board called for the means high drug prices perpetuate systemic racism.

“The barriers and rationing of treatment resulting from high prescription drug prices are integral to how systemic racism manifests itself in health care,” the article read. “By consistently putting profit maximization ahead of public health, pharmaceutical companies are inflicting the greatest suffering on those who are most vulnerable – black Americans and other people of color. “

Patient assistance programs are not a quick fix, the group says, as many exclude people without insurance. Noting that black Americans are nearly twice as likely to be uninsured, the group says such programs are rarely helpful.

A similar report from the Center for American Progress also documented how the combination of the racial wealth gap and drug costs exacerbate the health outcomes of blacks and Latinos.

“Inequitable access and prohibitive costs have significant clinical implications, as black and Hispanic Americans use fewer prescription drugs and face more serious chronic illnesses than white Americans,” the report reads. “For example, black Americans are more likely to die from high blood pressure, diabetes, HIV, and COVID-19 than white Americans. In addition, they are disproportionately susceptible to sickle cell disease, which can cost more than $ 3,000 per month to treat; in particular, 80 percent of sickle cell patients do not receive adequate care and treatment.

Read the full Center for American Progress report here.

A diverse group of lawmakers wrote an op-ed for The Washington Post stressing the importance of reducing drug costs. “We represent a geographically diverse portion of the American people – but in each of our districts we hear a collective concern,” the editorial opened. “The high cost of prescription drugs is hurting families – and it’s high time we brought those prices down. “

Polls in recent months have shown Americans, including those who identify as Republicans, support the federal government negotiating lower drug prices.

Speaking to MSNBC host Joy Reid, Representative Mondaire Jones called on his fellow Conservative Democrats to delay progress with alleged objections to cutting prescription drug costs. Jones asked who his colleagues were looking for in opposing the federal government’s ability to negotiate prescription drugs.

“When you see people simply objecting to Medicare’s ability, the federal government to down-negotiate prescription drug prices, something that is overwhelmingly supported by Democrats and Republicans, then it is clear that people are not playing district politics, ”Jones explained. “They don’t take care of the people in their neighborhood.”

“Let’s be clear.” Jones began. “The vast majority, almost all House Democrats, are in favor of this president’s widely supported economic agenda. It is a program for the people.

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