The incidences of misuse of prescription drugs for non-medical uses have nearly doubled over the past two decades. The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) contends that up to 20% Americans have illicitly consumed prescription drugs during their lifetime, while Columbia University's National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse (CASA) estimates that up to 15.1 million Americans abuse prescription drugs.
CASA also reports that teen abuse of prescription drugs has more than tripled (Under the Counter: The Diversion and Abuse of Controlled Prescription Drugs in the U.S.), a fact corroborated by NIDA's 2011 Monitoring The Future survey which discovered that over 8.1% of 12th-graders have consumed Vicodin without a valid prescription in the past year alone.
The abuse of prescription drugs is a major source of concern, especially considering the fact that the issue has consistently been overlooked by the authorities in favor of the more high profile psychoactive drugs such as cocaine, heroin and marijuana. This is despite the fact that the misuse and abuse of prescription drugs stand just behind marijuana as the most reported cases of substance abuse in North America.
2012 Democratic Presidential Nominee
Current President of the United States
The Obama administration unveiled the 2011 Prescription Drug Abuse Prevention Plan last year to combat prescription drug abuse. The four-pronged program expands upon the National Drug Control Strategy in an attempt to reduce prescription drug abuse:
A crucial first step in tackling the problem of prescription drug abuse is to educate parents, youth, and patients about the dangers of abusing prescription drugs, while requiring prescribers to receive education on the appropriate and safe use, and proper storage and disposal of prescription drugs.
Implement prescription drug monitoring programs (PDMPs) in every state to reduce “doctor shopping” and diversion, and enhance PDMPs to make sure they can share data across states and are used by healthcare providers.
• Proper Medication Disposal
Develop convenient and environmentally responsible prescription drug disposal programs to help decrease the supply of unused prescription drugs in the home.
Provide law enforcement with the tools necessary to eliminate improper prescribing practices and stop pill mills.
• One of the main proposals of Barack Obama with regards to prescription drugs is to grant permission to the citizens of America to buy safe prescription drugs from other developed countries if the cost is comparatively less. This is in cognizance of the fact that the prices of prescription drugs in America are not only higher but are also constantly on the rise.
• Obama has also proposed lifting of the ban which prevents the Federal Government from negotiating with the pharmaceutical companies with the intention of lowering the prices on the prescription drugs.
• Since prescription drugs are mostly used by the elderly segment of the population under the Medicare plan, Obama has proposed that it should be mandatory on part of all insurance providers providing Medicare to keep their seekers informed about the names of prescription drugs which they use and the payment which they make every year.
• Obama has also forwarded the proposal to close the infamous 'doughnut hole' which has been mentioned in the Medicare part D prescription drug program. This is because the 'doughnut hole' causes the people to incur medical expenditure to the tune of thousands of dollars as it represents a gap in coverage between a lower and a higher amount.
• Through his new proposals, Obama intends to prevent pharmaceutical companies from blocking the introduction of safe and economical generic drugs into the market.
• The new proposals with regards to Medicare prescription drug programs are meant to enable the senior citizens to choose a healthcare plan which would not only help to maintain their good health but would also cost relatively less thus resulting in savings.
“The final product on Medicare Part D, that final bill was sort of sausage squared, the idea you don't want to see how sausage is made… (President Bush) wanted to bring prescription coverage to seniors. He got that done, that's huge.... It has with it a financial burden which is very large. I don't imagine that that was what he was aiming for when he thought about this during his campaign… I would have hoped to do it differently, I would have hoped to include within the additional prescription benefits certain reforms to Medicaid, Medicare, and our entire healthcare system to be able to pay for a very helpful prescription drug benefit.”
January 27, 2006: Romney, speaking at a Christian Science Monitor-sponsored lunch, voicing his criticism on former President Bush’s Medicare Part D, a prescription drug program under Medicare, which extends coverage for ‘donut holes’ in existing plans.
Prescription drugs are tremendously expensive, but the solution is not a wasteful new one-size-fits-all government drug entitlement. To lower drug prices, we must eliminate government interference that prevents healthy free-market price competition.
First and foremost, we must eliminate the middleman in health care. The HMO Act of 1973, coupled with tax rules that do not allow individuals to use pre-tax dollars to pay for health care, combine to force millions of Americans to deal with HMO and Medicare bureaucrats…
… The Food and Drug Administration is also directly responsible for high drug costs. Pharmaceutical companies spend hundreds of millions of dollars to bring a single drug to market because of FDA rules. Often FDA approval is never obtained, no matter how much a company spends developing a drug. So pharmaceutical makers naturally try to recoup their huge investments by charging high prices and lobbying to keep exclusive drug patent periods as lengthy as possible. We need to understand that the FDA does far more harm than good, both in terms of drug prices and the incalculable chilling effect it has on needed drug research. With less FDA interference, patents could be shortened and drug development costs reduced. This would allow greater price competition between drug companies.
October 7, 2003: Paying Dearly for Free Prescription Drugs by Ron Paul
It does not matter if the Canadians or Germans employ price controls. Their drug prices may be artificially low, while ours may be artificially high. This simply shows that both the U.S. and other countries interfere in the market. It is not a justification for further intervention in the market by prohibiting reimportation. American consumers should not be punished simply because other governments have foolish economic policies.
Pharmaceutical companies certainly own the drugs they produce, and they have every right to sell them at any price they choose. They also have the right not to sell their products to foreign pharmacies, or to condition sales on an agreement that such pharmacies will not reimport into the U.S. They do not have a right, however, to use government to prevent Americans from buying drugs from any willing seller they choose, regardless of where that seller may be located.
August 5, 2003: Drug Reimportation Increases Medical Freedom by Ron Paul
Development of pharmaceuticals is a costly and risky affair, and therefore, rightfully, merits great reward. “Generic” alternatives are affordable, but it takes away the incentive from drug companies which make the investments, do the testing, and risk lawsuits only to see their profits dwindle when other companies “copy” their findings and offer the same drug cheaper.
Snyder believes that if the government insists that prescription drugs be made more affordable to poorer citizens, the government should compensate drug companies with tax cuts or other benefits.