One deals with prescription drug costs, mental health of first responders.
Frederick, Md (KM). With the House of Representative not in session during the week of November 4-7, Representative David Trone (D-Md) took some time to visit the 6th District and host two roundtables.
One, which took place in Gaithersburg on Tuesday, November 5th, dealt with prescription drug costs. “We talk a lot about why insulin can cost X in the US, and literally ten time less in Europe and literally 10 times less in Canada, and understand why that exactly happens,” Trone said in a recent interview with WFMD News.
He notes that the pharmaceutical companies says they need the money to conduct research on future drugs. But he says “big pharma” spends a lot of money on advertising. “You and i can’t watch a baseball game without seeing pharmaceutical ads. That’s not money going into to research and development. That’s just pushing their drugs,” Trone says.
Right now, the House is considering a bill to allow the Centers for Medicare ad Medicaid Services to negotiate with drug companies on the prices of prescription medications, which is something it can’t do now. Under the bill, CMS must negotiate maximum prices for insulin products, and at least 25 single source brand name drugs that do not have generic competition, as well as 125 other drugs that account for the greatest spending under the Medicare prescription drug benefit, and Medicare Advantage.
Trone says the bill, HR 3, which is going through Congress would address some of these issues. “Hopefully, we’ll get a vote on that very shortly,” he says.
Another roundtable which took place in Gaithersburg on Wednesday, November 6th, addressed the issue of mental health among first responders, such as police officers, fire fighters and medics. “The average first responder 30 days on the job sees more trauma, more mind-altering scenes in his job than you and I will see in our lifetime,” says Trone.
He says there needs to be more resources for these men and women which could help them cope with this trauma But they must be willing to come forward and ask for help. “We’ve got to figure out ways that folks can reach out for help, and not feel like they’ll be retaliated against and they’ll slow down their progress. We’ve got to take away the stigma,” says Trone.
He notes that there’s a high suicide rate among some emergency workers. “Over 180 policemen every year die of suicide. An officer just died in Montgomery County on a suicide,” says Trone.
Also part of the roundtable discussion on the mental health of first responders was Joshua Gordon, whose in charge of mental health at the National Institutes of Health.
By Kevin McManus