There is much talk these days about potential federal legislation aimed at lowering prescription drug prices. In principle, it sounds good because we all want to save money on essential costs, especially in these days of high inflation. But we need to be careful about the potential unintended consequences of such legislation.
I speak from personal experience. A few years ago, I needed surgery to address some ongoing medical issues. I was nervous about the procedure, but the doctors assured me it was safe. Unfortunately, as soon as I was administered anesthesia, I went into anaphylactic shock. My heart stopped three times. Fortunately, the doctors and nurses reacted quickly and were able to revive me each time.
However, that left me in a tricky position because I still needed the surgery but administering the anesthesia could kill me.
Eventually, my doctors put me in touch with an allergist. Together, we worked to find a solution. After doing some research, my allergist prescribed a medication that, if taken by injection about a week before surgery, it would suppress my allergic reaction to the anesthetic long enough to get through surgery. It worked, so I am here to tell the tale.
However, I wouldn’t be here without the targeted use of this medication. If I had been born just one generation earlier, such a treatment wouldn’t have been available to me because it didn’t exist yet. Medical innovation has saved my life, and I know it does the same for West Virginians throughout the state every day.
My concern is that Congress might pass a law aimed at lowering prescription drug prices that unfortunately could hinder the funding of medical research and thus hinder the development of life-saving treatments like the one that has kept me alive. If Congress would pass price-setting legislation without considering this issue, it could mean pharmaceutical companies might not have the necessary resources to find new cures and treatment options.
Pharmaceutical research has a tremendous value. It has brought us many cures we couldn’t have imagined just a few decades ago. It literally is responsible for my being here today to write these words. Sometimes, we think of the benefits of pharmaceutical research in abstract terms until it affects us or someone we know. Because of my experience, I think of those benefits in very personal, concrete terms.
I would hate to see the creation of new lifesaving treatments curtailed by government overreach and intervention. We all would like lower drug prices, just as we would like lower food and transportation prices, but let’s ask our senators and representatives in Congress to be wary about going for pocketbook savings at the cost of saving lives.
Wes Bennet is a resident of Hinton.