Nearly nine in 10 adults 65 and older report taking prescription medicines to maintain their health. As our loved ones get older, it is essential to prioritize their health and well-being. This can mean anything from taking them to their yearly checkups to ensuring they get the correct prescriptions. Access to health care is a non-negotiable necessity for older patients who are dependent on their daily medications.

This is a fact that Wisconsin’s health care industry takes very seriously. Indeed, the state’s biopharmaceutical companies alone invest $939 million in R&D annually. By investing in R&D, these companies have access to the essential medical research that Americans depend on.

R&D fuels the progression of Wisconsin’s biopharmaceutical innovation. It supplies clinical trials and increases testing, all the while helping to maintain seniors’ quality of care. Without this dedication to medical advancement, developing new therapies, new medications and new treatments would not be possible.

But unfortunately not everyone seems to recognize this reality. Some would prefer to allocate resources away from R&D — putting seniors’ access to health care at risk. The chief culprit: pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs).

PBMs act as the middlemen in the health care industry, negotiating rebates between the drug manufacturers and the hospitals that purchase those pharmaceuticals. These middlemen claim to help alleviate the problem of high prescription costs by working to lower health care prices for businesses and customers. However, this talking point simply isn’t true.

Instead, PBMs absorb the rebate savings rather than pass them on to pharmacies and consumers. In effect, they artificially inflate drug manufacturing costs. These higher costs leave manufacturers with fewer financial resources to invest in R&D — a consequence that ultimately leads to reductions in the medicinal development pipeline and fewer new treatments for those depending on them.

As the President and CEO of Coalition of Wisconsin Aging & Health Groups (CWAG), I work to ensure that our nation’s elderly get the medications they need when they need them. My team and I recognize the importance of biopharmaceutical innovation to our members. Investing in innovation brings us one step closer to eliminating the preventable diseases that impact countless lives every day. We must address the detrimental impact that PBMs make on this progress in order to provide patients with the treatments and medications that they need.

PBMs are siphoning money away from R&D for biopharmaceutical companies to innovate. We must address the threats that these middlemen pose to the development of new treatments and the extra pressure they put on patients at the pharmacy. Investing in innovation provides support and protection for older, immunocompromised populations. Indeed, America’s seniors deserve access to the newest, most impactful treatments — and it’s due time we hold PBMs accountable when they jeopardize it.

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