JUDY WOODRUFF: During the 2016 election campaign, President Trump repeatedly pledged to bring down prescription drug prices. And his administration has taken some steps in recent months, including trying to increase the number of generic, or non-brand name products, available to substitute for high-cost drugs. They have also lowered the price Medicare pays initially for some medications. Feeling political pressure, some drugmakers have announced temporary price freezes. But a new analysis by the Associated Press finds there have been far more price hikes than cuts. While price increases did slow somewhat, the analysis found there have been 96 price hikes for every price cut in the first seven months of this year. Journalist Elisabeth Rosenthal watches health care costs. She's the author of a book on the subject called An American Sickness, and she's the editor in chief of Kaiser Health News. Elisabeth Rosenthal, welcome to the NewsHour.
ELISABETH ROSENTHAL, Editor in Chief, Kaiser Health News: Thank you.
JUDY WOODRUFF: So, in sum, what is this AP analysis telling us?
ELISABETH ROSENTHAL: Well, it's showing us how hard it is to bring down drug prices, and that the president, despite his narrative of saying these companies are getting away with murder, isn't making a whole lot of headway. I mean, that's pretty extraordinary, 96 up to one down.
JUDY WOODRUFF: But there, they do show there is some slowing in the rate of increase. Is that right?
ELISABETH ROSENTHAL: Well, they do. But when you're saying slowing in the rate of increase, that means they're still going up. And these prices are already for many drugs, for an extraordinary number of Americans, unaffordable. So they shouldn't just be going up at a slower pace. I think we really need them to come down.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Now, we know what, Elisabeth Rosenthal, we know what the drug companies say. They say, we need this additional money because we're doing experiments. We're trying to come up with new drugs to solve other problems, to cure other illnesses. And that costs money.
ELISABETH ROSENTHAL: Yes, they say that. And that is true. But I think what we see, which is extraordinary to me, is that, over time, the same exact drug, a vaccine for pneumococcal pneumonia, a cancer drug, will go up, will double, will triple over time. Now, that isn't how any real market works, right? When things get older, the prices go down, because, hey, you have recouped your investment with this high price at the beginning. So why should it keep going up? That defies economic logic. It defies health care logic, and, frankly, it defies the drug companies' own logic.
JUDY WOODRUFF: So, when the president of the United States says, as President Trump said in May, he said he would be announcing massive voluntary drug price cuts within two weeks, what actually happened after that?
ELISABETH ROSENTHAL: Well, a bunch of companies started off just doing business as usual and announced price hikes. Then President Trump came back and said, shamed them. And shaming works a little bit. So there's a whole bunch of companies, probably half-a-dozen, that said, OK, we're not going to do price hikes this year. But, hey, we're going to pause. But what happens next year? No promises there. And, as I said, we're talking about price hikes of old drugs now. We're not talking about a new fabulous cancer treatment. We're talking about an annual 10 percent price hike on an old drug. And I don't think we have a good explanation for why that has occurred.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Is, as somebody who has studied this for a long time, what do you think it takes? I mean, is it, it's going to take? Are we talking political pressure from a president or somebody else? What does it take?
ELISABETH ROSENTHAL: Well, I don't think shaming enough is going to make it happen, right? So I think that the president proposed some ideas, like allowing greater generic competition, allowing biosimilars, which are complex molecules, to be done on a generic, basically, a generic basis. But that only affects a small number of drugs, maybe 10 to 15 right now. And the generics we have seen in this country don't lower prices. Look, the EpiPen, there was a brouhaha. It was $700. A generic meant it was $350. P.S., an EpiPen in 2007 was $100. So we're starting with this crazy high price point. So what will it take? I can tell you what other countries have found, is that it takes some sort of price-setting, some kind of national price negotiation.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Government action.
ELISABETH ROSENTHAL: Yes, basically, large-scale government action. I mean, maybe when Amazon and J.P. Morgan Chase and Berkshire Hathaway get together, they will have that kind of clout. But whether the market and these market manipulations can do it, I think Secretary Azar today said you need to give it time. I mean, my feeling is, yes, maybe some of them would work over time. But we're running out of time here. People are hurting right now. And these prices are extreme ordinarily high right now.
JUDY WOODRUFF: The other thing we see about drug pricing is, frankly, a lack of transparency. We don't see what it is inside these companies that is leading to these price increases, do we?
ELISABETH ROSENTHAL: No. And I think a number of politicians have called for that. A number of states are calling for that, which is interesting.
There's a lot of action at the state level right now, where a state is saying, if you want to raise prices, OK, explain why you need to do this.
We want a justification. So far, at a federal level, it's been kind of willy-nilly. Why do we raise prices? Well, I mean, economists would say because they can.
JUDY WOODRUFF: But it sounds like you're saying, in the near term, we're not going to see much change?
ELISABETH ROSENTHAL: Well, slow change. But we find in Kaiser Family Foundation surveys 80 percent of people want the government to do something; 40 percent say they're worried that they can't afford their medicines. We see young people dying because they can't afford insulin now. I think this is an acute problem, so a long-term solution is not going to really be enough right now. And I hope voters realize that and start putting on the political pressure, because I think we do need a solution.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, we're paying attention now. And let's hope a lot more people pay attention.
ELISABETH ROSENTHAL: I hope so. Thanks.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Elisabeth Rosenthal, thank you very much, Kaiser Health News.
ELISABETH ROSENTHAL: Thanks.
1.bring down 下降，击落
Military historians may never know what brought down the jet.
2.run out of 用完
Fears that the world was about to run out of fuel proved groundless
3.put on 增加
I can eat what I want but I never put on weight.
4.at the beginning 开始
When she contacted me at the beginning of August to enlist support, Sharon and I sprang into action.
The government were dragged willy-nilly into the confrontation.
朱迪·伍德拉夫：2016年竞选总统期间，特朗普总统曾多次承诺会降低处方药的价格。最近几个月，特朗普政府确实采取了一些措施，比如竭力给非专利药物以及非品牌类药物增产，从而替代成本高昂的药物 。此外，特朗普政府还降低了美国老年人医疗保险制度支付一些类型药物的开价 。在感受到了政治层面的压力后，一些制药商宣布会暂时进行价格冻结 。但美联社的一项最新研究表明，提价比降价要多的多 。虽然提价的速度有所减缓，但这项分析发现，在今年的前7个月里，每降价一次，就对应着提价96次 。记者伊丽莎白·罗森塔尔跟进了医疗成本一事 。作家伊丽莎白写了一本书，名为《美国病》，她同时也是凯撒健康新闻的主编 。伊丽莎白·罗森塔尔，欢迎您参加本期的《新闻一小时》 。
伊丽莎白·罗森塔尔：这倒是没错，但是当我们提到涨价速率这种字眼的时候，就意味着药物的价格还是在不断上涨的。很多药物的价格对于很多美国人来说已经是天价了 。光是放慢涨价速率是不够的 。我认为，我们依然需要价格切切实实地下降 。
朱迪·伍德拉夫：伊丽莎白女士，我们都知道制药公司的说法。制药公司都说，我们需要加价的那笔资金，因为我们要做实验 。我们要竭力研制新的药物来解决其他的很多问题并治疗其他类型的疾病，这些都是成本 。
伊丽莎白·罗森塔尔：没错，他们确实是这样说的，所言也不假。但我认为，我们都有目共睹的一件事，也是我本人触目惊心的一件事，就是不管过了多久，同样一种药，比如肺炎球菌性肺炎的疫苗或者抗癌药物，其价格一直都在上涨，甚至翻番，乃至三倍 。这就不对了吧，因为没有哪个市场是这样运作的，对吧？按理来说，旧事物价格应该下降，因为一开始就已经通过高价弥补了研制和实验上的投资了呀 。那么，凭什么还要继续涨价呢？这是违背经济逻辑吗？这违背了医疗逻辑，而且，坦白讲，也违背了制药公司自己的运作逻辑 。
伊丽莎白·罗森塔尔：有很多公司还是像往常一样运营，还宣布会抬高价格。然后特朗普总统又会回过头来说，这些人真可耻之类的话 。但这种话一点作用都没有 。所以有很多公司，大概有十几个公司都说，好的，我们今年不会涨价了 。但这时候我们会愣住，心想：明年会有什么幺蛾子呢？我不想再听什么承诺了 。而且，如我前面所述，我们现在讨论的老药的涨价问题啊 。我们讨论的又不是什么治疗癌症的新型酷炫药物 。我们讨论的是一种每年都会涨价10%的老药好吗？所以，我觉得，目前还没有任何人对已经发生的情况做出合理的解释 。
伊丽莎白·罗森塔尔：首先，我觉得羞不羞耻并不会产生什么效果，对吧？所以，我觉得特朗普提出了一些观点，比如让非专利药物市场有更激烈的竞争，允许分子更为复杂的生物仿制药进入市场，也就是从通用药上入手。但这只会让少数药物价格发生改变，大概10-15种吧 。而美国的大多数通用药都不会降价的 。比如，炒上天的肾上腺素是700美元，如果以通用药的出售，就是350美元 。顺便补一句，2007年的时候，肾上腺素才100美元 。所以，如果要从这种天价开始入手的话，代价自然是非常大了 。我还想补充一下其他国家的发现成果，即需要定价，需要国家层面的价格谈判 。
伊丽莎白·罗森塔尔：没错，是大范围的政府举措，即亚马逊和摩根大通、伯克希尔·哈撒韦公司合力，才能有这样的影响力。但市场以及这些操纵市场的作用力是否能成事，我觉得现任卫生部部长阿扎尔说的有道理，即需要一段时间才可以完成 。我想说，我的感觉是：没错，或许有些做法需要时间才能发挥效用 。但我们现在没那么多时间了 。人们备受药物价格居高不下之苦 。而且价格现在已经奇高无比了 。
伊丽莎白·罗森塔尔：是的。而且我认为很多政客都要求过这一点 。很多州也在要求，这就很有意思了 。现在，在州的层面上已经采取了很多行动，比如有的州会说，想提价？可以啊，那解释一下原因吧 。我们想要合理的解释 。目前为止，联邦政府的层面还是有些犹豫不决 。为什么要提价呢？我觉得，经济学家会说，因为他们有这个能力提价 。
伊丽莎白·罗森塔尔：会有改变，但会很慢。不过，我们从凯泽家庭基金会的调查中得知，80%的受访者都希望政府能有所行动 。40%的人表示他们很担心无法支付高昂的医药费 。我们看到有年轻人因为付不起胰岛素的费用而死去 。我觉得是这是一个紧迫的问题，所以长期的解决方案对于现在来说是不够的 。我希望选民们能意识到从政治上施压的重要性，并开始行动，因为我觉得我们确实需要一个解决方案 。