New Prescription Drug Law Misses the Mark by a Mile
Updated: Mar 19, 2020
In a recent op-ed in the Deseret News, Derek Monson, of the Sutherland Institute, lauded the state legislature's efforts to lower prescription drug prices through some limited financial disclosure rules aimed at requiring some transparency in the industry. He stated that both sides of the issue "invoked the principles of the free market" to argue their cases.
My position is that life-supporting prescription drugs have no business being a market commodity in the first place. No amount of transparency will fix the problem of a lot of people not having access to necessary medications because of cost. When it comes to healthcare and obtaining those medications, we are not "consumers." Yes, there are elective prescription medications that do fit well in a free market economy, but medications like insulin absolutely do not.
The state of Utah's public insurer goes to such lengths as paying employees to fly to Mexico and back on a regular basis to purchase certain drugs at a steep discount. This ABC News article tells us, "The cost difference is so large that the state's insurance program for public employees can pay for each patient’s flight, give them a $500-per-trip bonus and still save tens of thousands of dollars."
Is this where the free market is taking us with prescription medication? Is the free market really the best we can offer when the richest country in the world must rely on our Mexican neighbors to the south to supply us with the medication we need to live our lives and be productive contributors in society? The answer is "no." Like education and police forces and fire departments, some things just don't work as market commodities. Necessary prescription medication is one of those things, and "limited financial reporting" won't come close to solving the problem.