The Solution to Soaring Drug Prices? A Public Option for Pills
Vishal Khetpal writes how with public opinion of Big Pharma near an all-time low, it’s time for the government to enter the generic drug business, citing The Democracy Collaborative’s report “Medicine for All.”
With prescription drug costs continuing to grow, lawmakers on both sides of the aisle have proposed pegging drug prices to an international index and granting states permission to import drugs from Canada. Among the public, both Democrats and Republicans have shown support for allowing Medicare to negotiate drug prices with pharmaceutical companies. But the moment might be ripe for an even bolder idea: letting the federal government get into the business of generic drug manufacturing, essentially creating a public option for generic drugs.
The idea isn’t new. Already, a group of large, private health care providers has come together to develop a not-for-profit generic drug manufacturer, called Civica Rx. And government-run drug manufacturing was proposed in a 2018 bill co-sponsored by Senator Elizabeth Warren, who has also included it in her campaign platform on health care. The nonprofit Democracy Collaborative recently commissioned a comprehensive report examining the idea, and just last month, California Governor Gavin Newsom announced a plan for the state to create its own generic drug label.