6 things to know about prescription drug costs in the presidential race

Democratic presidential hopefuls Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton have jumped into the ring on prescription drug costs, introducing a bill for policy changes and a cap on drug costs, respectively, according to The New York Times.

Here are six things to know about why prescription drugs are becoming a hot button campaign issue and how these candidates have begun to address them.

1. Spending on prescription drugs is up, according to The New York Times: It increased more than $100 per capita last year. This is considered a big jump. According to the report, the federal government estimated drug spending jumped 12 percent last year when adjusted for inflation.

2. Some of this can be explained by new, expensive drugs that entered the market last year for hepatitis C, chronic liver disease, multiple sclerosis, cancer and autoimmune disorders, according to the report. However, many other drugs have jacked up their prices and fewer drugs are producing generics, according to the report. When the price of tuberculosis drug cycloserine jumped from $500 per 30 capsules to $10,800 per 30 capsules after it was sold to Rodelis Therapeutics last month, outrage ensued. The company has since adjusted its prices down to $1,050 per 30 capsules, according to The New York Times coverage, but the damage is done. Biotechnology stocks have fallen, and both voters and politicians have noticed.

3. People are more sensitive to increases in drug pricing than in other areas of healthcare, according to the report, likely because people are now paying more out-of-pocket for their prescriptions.

4. Ms. Clinton is expected to outline a plan Tuesday to curb rising prescription drug costs. Her plan includes a proposed $250 monthly cap on consumers' out-of-pocket costs for medications, a requirement for pharmaceutical companies to invest in research and development, authorization to import drugs from Canada and sanctions for Medicare to negotiate the purchase of drugs with pharmaceutical companies, according to The New York Times.

5. Several lobbying groups spoke out against Ms. Clinton's proposal Tuesday, including Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America and America's Health Insurance Plans, according to The Hill. Among their statements the groups said her plan would halt research, risk patient safety and add to cost pressures.

6. Sen. Sanders' proposal includes similar provision to import drugs from Canada and allow for Medicare to negotiate pricing, according to the report. It additionally includes requirements that drug companies be more transparent on the cost of research and development, and increased fraud penalties for such companies. Sen. Sanders' plan was included in legislation introduced earlier this month.

 

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