Consumer Access to Affordable Medicines Is a Public Health Imperative, Says New Report

Consumer access to effective and affordable medicines is an imperative for public health, social equity, and economic development, but this need is not being served adequately by the biopharmaceutical sector, says a new report from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine.  The report offers recommendations to improve the affordability of prescription drugs without discouraging the development of new and more effective drugs for the future. “Over the past several decades, the biopharmaceutical sector in the United States has been successful in developing and delivering effective drugs for improving health and fighting disease, and many medical conditions that were long deemed untreatable can now be cured or managed effectively,” said Norman Augustine, chair of the committee that conducted the study and wrote the report.  “However, high and increasing costs of prescription drugs coupled with the broader trends in overall medical expenditures … are unsustainable to society as a whole.  Our report seeks to address the market failures that currently permeate the biopharmaceutical sector, such as lack of competition due to distortions in the application of the patent protection process, the imbalance between the negotiating power of suppliers and purchasers, and the convoluted structure of the supply chain.  Although changes within the current system will be demanding, they are likely to better serve the nation.”

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