Congress has a way to solve high drug prices

By William M. Fogarty Jr., M.D.
St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Letters, Sept. 8, 2016

The editorial "Injected and gouged" (Sept. 1) clearly delineates the problem of unconscionable drug price increases. However, the solution to the problem is mentioned only in passing.

The best way to stop this gouging is for Medicare to negotiate drug prices for its beneficiaries and have private insurers use that fee schedule as a basis for their own schedules. At this time the government is precluded by law from such negotiations. This makes no sense and could be changed by members of Congress, if they weren't beholden to the pharmaceutical industry.

We will likely see hearings with legislators acting shocked by the gouging on the EpiPen when the remedy is in their hands. Even more serious are the 300 percent to 500 percent increases in the prices of many common generic drugs that affect far more patients than the increase in the price of the EpiPen. These increases are caused by questionable mergers and the arrangements of generic drug makers that limit or eliminate competition. This situation should also fall under the purview of the Congress.

In the end, these and so many more problems in our medical system can only be solved by adopting a single-payer system that can negotiate for all Americans to receive quality care at reasonable cost.

Dr. William M. Fogarty Jr. resides in  Webster Groves.