Friday, June 22, 2018
Editorials

Editorial: Let federal government negotiate prescription drug prices

One of the fairest and most effective ways for the nation to reduce its health care costs is for the federal government to use its massive purchasing power to negotiate more affordable prices for prescription drugs. That long-recognized reality is a key finding of a recent report by the National Academy of Sciences that makes practical recommendations for reducing drug costs while protecting the role pharmaceuticals play in the modern health care system.

The report, Making Medicines Affordable, is notable for the 32 findings that address the challenge of curbing drug costs in both economic and political terms. To its credit, the academy balanced the debate by drawing attention at the outset to the contribution that the drug industry has made in delivering products that have been "very successful" in improving health and fighting disease.

But success, as the academy noted, has come at a price: The nation spends about $500 billion a year on prescriptions, or nearly one-fifth of the nationís health care bill. And spending on drugs is the fastest growing aspect of health care costs, outpacing both inflation and growth in family incomes. Noting that two-thirds of personal bankruptcies have been attributed either entirely or in part to the burden of health care costs, the academy found that making prescriptions more affordable would serve a broad national interest.

The recommendations would be good for consumers, taxpayers and public health. The federal government should consolidate and apply its purchasing power to negotiate drug prices with producers and suppliers, the panel said. It urged Congress to authorize Medicare to negotiate with drugmakers, and called for the greater use of less expensive, generic drugs as an alternative in some cases to brand-name medicines.

The report did not endorse price controls; it took on the pricing floors that exist under the current system. It called for new regulations that restrict the ability of drug manufacturers to block generics into the market. It said the industry needed to be more transparent about pricing and discounts so that consumers could become smarter buyers. And it called for new restrictions on advertising and contacts the drug companies have with doctors and hospitals, which the report said skew the market for fair competition. The academy found the burden of high drug prices falls disproportionately on the poor, and it noted that while generics represent 89 percent of all drug prescriptions, they account for only 24 percent of the total cost of all prescriptions.

The report shows how the nationís drug costs are impacting Americaís pocketbook, which the academy called "unsustainable to society as a whole." It declared that access to drugs was "an imperative for public health" but rightly took aim at a pricing and regulatory framework that serves the industry more than consumers. With more than half of Americans regularly taking a prescription drug, this is an issue that Congress must address.

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Editorial: With Supreme Court ruling, Florida should collect sales tax from online retailers

Editorial: With Supreme Court ruling, Florida should collect sales tax from online retailers

It turns out the U.S. Supreme Court has a better grasp of the economic realities of the 21st century than Congress or the Florida Legislature. The court ruled Thursday that states can require online retailers to collect sales taxes even if the retail...
Updated: 10 hours ago
Editorial: Congress should ban splitting kids, parents

Editorial: Congress should ban splitting kids, parents

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Published: 06/21/18
Sessions kickstarts action on marijuana

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Good job, Jeff Sessions! It seems the attorney generalís misguided attempts to revive the unpopular and unjust federal war on marijuana may be having the exact opposite effect ó prompting a new bipartisan effort in Congress to allow states to legaliz...
Published: 06/18/18
Updated: 06/21/18
Editorial: A court victory for protecting Floridaís environment

Editorial: A court victory for protecting Floridaís environment

A Tallahassee judge has affirmed the overwhelming intent of Florida voters by ruling that state lawmakers have failed to comply with a constitutional amendment that is supposed to provide a specific pot of money to buy and preserve endangered lands. ...
Published: 06/18/18
Updated: 06/20/18
Editorial: Trump should stop taking children away from parents at the border

Editorial: Trump should stop taking children away from parents at the border

Innocent children should not be used as political pawns. That is exactly what the Trump administration is doing by cruelly prying young children away from their parents as these desperate families cross the Mexican border in search of a safer, better...
Published: 06/17/18
Updated: 06/19/18

Editorial: ATF should get tougher on gun dealers who violate the law

Gun dealers who break the law by turning a blind eye to federal licensing rules are as dangerous to society as people who have no right to a possess a firearm in the first place. Yet a recent report shows that the federal agency responsible for polic...
Published: 06/17/18
Updated: 06/18/18
Editorial: Encouraging private citizens to step up on transit

Editorial: Encouraging private citizens to step up on transit

The new grass-roots effort to put a transportation package before Hillsborough County voters in November faces a tough slog. Voters rejected a similar effort in 2010, and another in 2016 by elected officials never made it from the gate. But the lates...
Published: 06/15/18
Editorial: 40 years later, honoring remarkable legacy of Nelson Poynter

Editorial: 40 years later, honoring remarkable legacy of Nelson Poynter

Forty years ago today, Nelson Poynter died. He was the last individual to own this newspaper, and to keep the Times connected to this community, he did something remarkable. He gave it away.In his last years, Mr. Poynter recognized that sooner or lat...
Published: 06/15/18

There was no FBI anti-Trump conspiracy

The Justice Department released Thursday the highly anticipated report on the FBIís handling of the Hillary Clinton email probe and other sensitive issues in the 2016 election. It is not the report President Donald Trump wanted. But there is enough i...
Published: 06/14/18
Updated: 06/15/18

Voter purge may be legal, but itís also suppression

The Supreme Courtís ruling last Monday to allow Ohioís purging of its voter rolls is difficult to dispute legally. While federal law prohibits removing citizens from voter rolls simply because they havenít voted, Ohioís purge is slightly different. T...
Published: 06/14/18
Updated: 06/15/18