Op Eds & Letters To The Editor

OP-ED: The Secret The Drug Industry Doesn’t Want You to Know by Derickson K. Lawrence

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Senate Republicans in Congress returning from a July 4th recess are still divided on the Better Care Reconciliation Act – their version of the healthcare bill.  But rest assured they won’t give up that easily. They’re now thinking about repeal with a twist: “delayed replace” –an approach many see as “pulling at straws’’ to remedy an environment where costs are continuing to rise and healthcare choices are getting narrower.

So what matters now is what we do, locally, especially since our state representatives are with us (home in their districts) for the next six months.

One healthcare issue that’s in our local control, believe it or not, is lowering prescription drug prices. But we must stand together to make it happen.

First, I’ll tell you the dark secret that drug companies and their affiliates don’t want you to know: It’s called claw-back. I believe we need to rip the covers off this opaque process that takes place among drug manufacturers, pharmacy benefit managers, and insurance companies.  This practice occurs when a patient pays with a co-pay of say, $30, and the price of the drug is actually $5. The difference of $25 is clawed back by the pharmacist, the pharmacy benefit manager or the drug manufacturer.

No matter how frequently or infrequently this practice occurs it is wrong.  Consumers and patients should no longer be in the dark. It should be a fundamental right to know the price – or what the industry calls the “cash-price” before the prescription is filled.

The sick, elderly, poor, disabled, working and middle class deserve better. At the very least the knowledge of the price –when lower than the co-pay – the patient saves the difference. That’s progress. And when it’s not, that opportunity is the first step in allowing members within that group of patients the choice to: discuss alternatives with their physicians; shop around and take their business elsewhere.

Now here’s how we can change the claw-back practice. In addition to state legislation already proposed to mandate transparency and disclosure, we want citizens to get engaged in New York with the Know the Price Movement. That is starting in Westchester, we want to get local villages, towns, cities and counties across the state to pass resolutions to support the legislation. Since there are a few steps and specific resolution-language involved in the engagement process, I will present the flow in my next piece.

The old bromide — what we do, as a collective group of citizens, rather than what we say is what matters– will hold true for the next six months.

Look for those steps of engagement on lowering prescription drug prices.

In the interim, if you would like to comment on “claw-back” go to www.westchestercountyHC.org

The writer chairs Westchester County Home Owners Coalition and is a former Congressional Candidate for NY 16 CD.

AJ Woodson

AJ Woodson is the Editor-In-Chief of Black Westchester and Co-Owner of Urban Soul Media Group, the parent company, Host & Producer of the People Before Politics Radio Show. AJ is a Father, Brother, An Author, Journalism Fellow (Craig Newmark Graduate School of Journalism), Hip-Hop Artist - one third of the legendary underground rap group JVC FORCE known for the single Strong Island, Radio Personality, Hip-Hop Historian, Documentarian, Activist, Criminal Justice Advocate and Freelance Journalist whose byline has appeared in several print publications and online sites including The Source, Vibe, the Village Voice, Upscale, Sonicnet.com, Launch.com, Rolling Out Newspaper, Daily Challenge Newspaper, Spiritual Minded Magazine, Word Up! Magazine, On The Go Magazine and several others.

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