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Pharmaceutical Industry Targeting NC Budget Savings

The pharmaceutical industry is mad. They are getting people to lobby their legislators. Emails are being churned out. Who knows what else is happening?

Why? Buried in North Carolina’s current budget proposal now being considered in the House is a move by Governor Beverly Perdue to save at least $20 million that the state currently spends on prescription drugs in its state health Medicaid program. The savings comes from implementation of a comprehensive preferred drug list. Long resisted by the pharmaceutical industry, this list would use independent research and evidence to encourage use only of drugs that work the best and cost the least. Paying millions for ineffective drugs is a luxury we can no longer afford in North Carolina.

Which drugs work the best and cost the least isn’t a mystery. Consumer Reports magazine maintains a comprehensive website (www.crbestbuydrugs.org) that reviews drugs for multiple different conditions, goes over the research on effectiveness, and looks at price – all to come up with the best drugs on the market. Anyone looking at the Consumer Reports publications quickly realizes that paying millions for prescription drugs that aren’t effective or are overpriced really makes little sense given how much we know about what drugs work and which ones don’t already.

The drug industry is in full cry against such commonsense suggestions however. We’ve posted a sample email that pharmaceutical industry representatives are using to bombard members of the General Assembly. You can read the whole thing, but this sentence pretty much sums it up:

SB 202 should protect patients by removing Preferred Drug List language from the bill…

Yes – it’s all about “protecting patients.” Of course it has nothing to do about protecting profits. Just imagine if Chrysler tried to prevent buyers from using Consumer Reports information when they purchased a car. Sorry Big Pharma, I think I’ll go with the Consumer Reports research instead. Let’s hope Governor Perdue’s (seconded by the NC Senate) suggestions survive in the House version of the budget. We can start saving money in health care we desperately need in this terrible budget year. Will common sense win out over the special interests?

2 Comments

  1. Jennifer Mahan

    May 15, 2009 at 8:47 am

    As MHANC has stated previously, the protections for open access to medications (including exemption from PDLs, prior authorization, etc) for drugs used to treat mental illness need to remain in the Medicaid budget. Compared to other drug classes, there are limited numbers of medicaitons used to treat mental illness. There should be more options, and ones that have fewer side effects, but for now we need all the options we can have. Policies that promote failure on one older and or less costly drug before another can be used are deadly to people with mental illness and they simply shift costs to our fragile crisis systems: hospital ERs, state psychiatric hospitals, and, sadly, also to jails and prisons. PDLs don’t work for everyone or every condition.

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    June 1, 2009 at 4:31 pm

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