GVSU hosts collaborative lecture on rising prescription drug costs

GVL / Olivia Fellows

GVL / Olivia Fellows

Olivia Fellows

Millions of people across America rely on prescription drugs to help them cope with health problems ranging from anxiety to cancer. In recent years, the economy of the United States has caused drug prices to soar to previously unseen levels. 

During Grand Valley State University’s hosted lecture titled “The Highs and Lows of Prescription Drugs,” several expert panelists gathered to explain the reasons behind the rising prices and discuss how the pharmaceutical industry is attempting to deal with them to better serve consumers. The lecturers also touched on the monetary effect that the rising costs have on both the economy as well as consumers. 

The lecture, held in the Richard M. DeVos Center on GVSU’s Pew Campus featured the expertise of Ferris State University Professor of Pharmacy Administrator Greg Wellman, Spartan Nash Clinical Care Coordinator Eric Roath and Vice President of Pharmacy Services at Blue Cross Blue Shield Atheer Kaddis. The lecture also featured a question and answer session following the lectures for audience members. 

Wellman’s presentation highlighted the economic reasons behind why drug prices are continuing to skyrocket. Wellman stated that he wants to inform consumers of the economic impact that pharmaceutical companies can have on consumer spending.

“An understanding of what the true market forces are that influence drug prices is the key to investigating things about our broken economy that don’t allow true market forces to determine the prices of pharmaceuticals,” Wellman said. “Perspectives from individuals within the healthcare system and providers of health insurance on how the pharmaceuticals are paid for, and policies that may be beneficial to this process are important to pay attention to for consumers.” 

Additional lectures covered how the relationship between consumers, wholesalers, manufacturers and pharmacies affects drug pricing. This also covered Michigan bills that have been introduced with the intention to curb inflation. 

Inflation is the main reason why future generations will be impacted by rising drug prices, and people are primarily concerned on the financial impact this will have. Wellman said that the United States as a whole spends more on healthcare and prescription drugs than any other country in the world and, because of this, our healthcare system is failing millions of patients every year. 

“The United States healthcare patient outcomes are some of the lowest on record, and we need to find a way to curb inflation related to healthcare pharmaceuticals or else we’ll cause problems for the next generation with managing costs, taxation and government spending regarding pharmaceuticals,” Wellman said.

Wellman also sees the importance in informing the public of any changes regarding healthcare and the pharmaceutical world. He believes that giving talks that include both students and the general public aid consumers in being informed of changes within the pharmaceutical industry and government policy. 

Wellman asserts that knowing about these changes will help people make more informed choices about the drugs that they are buying. This is especially important for students, as knowing the right drugs to buy at the lowest prices can be a struggle. 

“It helps people gain an understanding of what’s behind the curtain (and is) basically an opportunity to hear what decisions are being made in the pharmaceutical industry,” Wellman said. “Getting to explain in common terms how healthcare and pharmaceutical prices are changing and the reasoning behind those changes is extremely beneficial.”