Report: Americans cutting back on meds due to cost; Congress looking into “product hopping”

WASHINGTON — A new report finds that a growing number of Americans are cutting back on their prescription medications because they can’t afford them.

The report comes out as a Congressional committee is looking at ways to bring the high cost of prescription medications down.

A report this week in the Journal of the American Heart Association said one in eight Americans cut back on prescription heart medication because of the cost.

“Prices are skyrocketing and people are going bankrupt and even dying because they can’t afford their prescription medication,” said Rep. David Cicilline (D-RI).

Cicilline has sponsored a bill that targets a drug industry practice known as “product hopping.”

That’s where a drug maker slightly changes a drug’s formula to extend its patent, preventing its competitors from selling a cheaper, generic version.

“Doctors and patients, therefore, have essentially no choice to switch to the new, but not improved, drug, for which the drug company can continue to charge monopoly prices,” said Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-NY).

Nadler said the Congressional committee’s efforts would help Americans physically and financially.

“This legislation will save American taxpayers more than half a billion dollars over a 10-year period,” he said.

The pharmaceutical industry has pushed back on efforts to control drug prices, saying this would end the current market-based system and restrict patient access to medications.

“This conduct focuses on the delivery of profits to big pharma rather than meaningful innovation for sick patients,” Nadler said.

Pharmaceutical industry trade group Pharma said it is, “…committed to working with members of Congress of both sides of the aisle to ensure legislation doesn’t hurt U.S. innovation…”