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Opioids

An arrangement of Percocet pills is shown last year in New York. 

In their Local View about cutting medication costs ("Medicare needs free-market fixes," June 22), several state senators displayed amazing ignorance about our health care industry.

Our health care companies (especially pharmaceuticals) are not based in a free-market system consisting of active competition, knowledge by the consumer, clearly marked transparent prices, etc.

Because of monopoly pricing, the cost of an EpiPen rose from $94 to $700 in a decade, and a dose of Daraprim rose from $13.50 to $750 in 2015.

Because of the number of medications available, doctors or pharmacists are often forced to rely on pharma advertising. Thus, the Sackler Family and Purdue Pharma convincing doctors that OxyContin was non-addictive contributing to our current opioid epidemic.

Pharma does not create new drugs independently. They rely on government support for basic research within our universities and the National Institutes of Health. Others do the heavy lifting, with pharma using their information for free.

Consumers don’t know what medications actually cost. List prices, wholesale prices and average net prices are only minimally related. Rebates may or may not be shared with the consumer. Pharmacy benefit managers and other entities in the supply chain often require large rebates in order for a medicine to be covered. These entities are hidden from the consumer.

If our senators want to be helpful, they need to learn how the industry works rather than rely on shallow political slogans. A shallow invocation of the “free market” god may be politically popular, but it is not useful. Our citizens need better-informed senators.

Barrie K. Marchant, Lincoln

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