ALMOND: CREATES Act is a bipartisan answer to a real problem

Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA) speaks to reporters as he arrives for a nomination vote on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., December 13, 2017. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts

The cost of medicine is a problem for many North Carolinians and Stanly County citizens. The increasing cost of medications is impacting the young and old in our communities. For years we have all heard about the positive and negative impacts of big pharmaceutical companies, but it seems Congress is now doing something about the continued price hikes for prescription medication.

Both Republicans and Democrats have joined together recently in an effort to combat the rising cost of medicine. Drug prices continue to increase with no direct explanation, putting a financial strain on those who need the medications. A study by the nonpartisan Medicare Payment Advisory Commission stated that prescription drugs consist of almost 20 percent of health care costs. Drugs for arthritis and cholesterol have doubled in cost over a decade or less. Cancer medications are costing in the hundreds of thousands. Currently the prescription drug market is costing North Carolinians — especially seniors — extreme amounts.

A new bill in Congress addressing this growing problem is called the CREATES Act — Creating and Restoring Equal Access to Equivalent Samples Act. This legislation would narrow a loophole used by some prescription drug companies to block less expensive generic medications from entering the prescription drug market, effectively leaving those who have difficulty affording their medications with no alternatives. This bill would positively affect our community by allowing the lower-cost generic competitors into the market.

Many conservative Republicans and some Democrats in Washington are advocating for policies that achieve the twin goals of reducing patient cost and assuring patient safety. At a time when more and more North Carolinians are struggling to manage the costs of their prescriptions, sensible policies aimed at relieving that pressure while simultaneously safeguarding patients from potential harm is an important — though often challenging — balance to achieve. The CREATES Act is a thoughtful and tailored approach to achieving that balance — and it has Republican Senators Mike Lee (R-UT), John McCain (R-AZ), Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and Ted Cruz (R-TX) on the same bill as Democrats Claire McCaskill (D-MO), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and Patrick Leahy (D-VT). The bill ensures the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) maintains the fundamental mission of ensuring the safety and efficacy of America’s drug supply while targeting certain pharmaceutical companies who misuse restricted distribution systems and FDA safety protocols to block lower-cost alternatives from coming to market.

The CREATES Act begins a battle which will protect American citizens from big Pharmaceutical companies acting almost as monopolies. The introduced bill also protects the nation’s drug supply by maintaining the long-held role the FDA plays in determining safety and efficacy of pharmaceutical protocols and systems designed to ensure their safe use. The CREATES Act is focused solely to ensure lower-cost generics can come to market and that will benefit patients in North Carolina.

Without reforms, lower-cost generic alternatives to branded drugs will continue to be delayed from reaching consumers in our county who need them. The CREATES Act would make a positive impact on our community by helping make medication more affordable to those in need.