The price of prescription medications in the United States is ridiculously absurd. And that’s something conservatives and liberals seem to agree on.

Where there is a disagreement is finding a way to bring prices down while retaining access to the medications and still providing enough profit to fuel research and development of new drugs. Still, over the years — and through the frustration — opinions on how to cut costs to consumers have grown closer.

 As a result, perhaps, drug companies have been slowing the increase in consumer prices. This restraint in price increases could be to reduce consumer angst and ultimately ease some of the pressure to convince government to take action to legislate price reductions.

“I think everybody’s just gotten caught up on how to play (the game),” said Stacie B. Dusetzina, a drug price expert and assistant professor of health policy at Vanderbilt University.

That would seem to be the case.  

Still, Big Pharma putting the brakes on runaway prices is welcome.

An Associated Press analysis shows that in first seven months of this year, drugmakers raised list prices for brand-name prescription medicines by a median of 5 percent. That’s down from about 9 percent or 10 percent over those months the prior four years, the AP found. From January through July this year, there were 4,483 price hikes, down 36 percent from that stretch in 2015.

In addition, several large manufacturers opted not to make mid-year price increases as they have done in the past.

“This rhetoric around drug prices may be starting to bend the curve, but we’re not getting to the point of actual decreases in the total cost of drugs,” just a slowing of increases, said Adrienne E. Faerber, who teaches health economics at the Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy and Clinical Practice. “Very few drug prices go down.”

Drug prices are still too high, particularly compared with what  consumers are charged in other countries.

The message here is that the “rhetroic” — as in complaining about the outrageous prices — has done some good.

In playing the game, as Dusetzina calls it, drugmakers showed that public opinion does get results. The rhetoric should not stop just because the increases have slowed.

Editorials are the opinion of the Union-Bulletin's Editorial Board. The board is composed of Brian Hunt, Rick Eskil, James Blethen and Alasdair Stewart

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