OPINION: Legislation Could Cure Hyperinflation of Prescription Drugs for State Employees

By Connect Clarksburg Staff | February 10, 2018
CREATES Act Clears the Way to Affordable, Competitive Prescription Costs
By Riley Keaton
The rising cost of prescription drugs is a story all of us are familiar with. If we haven’t had the misfortune of paying out-of-pocket for overpriced medication, we all have a friend or loved one who has. For years, the inflation rate for prescription drugs has outpaced total inflation in the economy as well wages. Ordinary Americans and West Virginians are losing ground as more and more of their paycheck or retirement is committed to paying for medications.
As much as drug prices hurt us each individually, we can look to the headlines for even broader consequences of this situation. At the federal level, healthcare entitlements push spending higher year  after year. Drug hyperinflation has contributed significantly to the $20 trillion national debt and taken up a larger share of Medicare and Medicaid services. Drug hyperinflation hurts our economy, the disadvantaged, and senior citizens.
Closer to home, news of PEIA’s financial problems have put our school teachers and service personnel in a very tough spot. Over the years, PEIA has shelled out tens of millions of dollars to cover prescription drug prices that were outpacing population and wage growth. Drug hyperinflation is hurting our teachers and state employees.
How did we find ourselves here? Much of the answer lies in how complicated it is to get generic drugs to market. Because of this difficulty, there isn’t enough competition to keep prices down.
In this era of political division, it’s hard to find an issue that unites people more than solving drug hyperinflation. The CREATES Act (S974), sponsored by Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and supported by headline-catching names like Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) and Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT), would accelerate the process of getting generic drugs on the market. By making the drug markets more competitive, the CREATES Act would lower drug prices for all.
Currently, the Food and Drug Administration requires generic drug manufacturers to purchase the name-brand drug they seek to compete with in order to prove that their generic alternative is chemically the same. The CREATES Act would eliminate the loophole that allows drug companies to manipulate the testing process by refusing to sell their products for testing. Generic drug manufacturers would be able to clear FDA hurdles much faster and bring down costs for the rest of us.
Senators from both sides of the aisle are leading the way to help pass the CREATES Act and level the playing field for generic drug manufacturers. West Virginia’s Senator Shelley Moore Capito should join that bipartisan group and support the CREATES Act. Call Sen. Capito’s DC office at 202-224-6472 to express your support for the CREATES Act.
Riley Keaton is a Sophomore at WVU studying Economics and serves as Vice Chairman of the West Virginia University College Republicans.

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