Frontline (1983– )

The Other Drug War 

America's war over prescription drugs has dragged on for over twenty years. Why are medications so expensive? And can prices be controlled without jeopardizing innovation in the pharmaceuticals industry?


Jon Palfreman


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Episode cast overview, first billed only:
Will Lyman ... Narrator (voice)
Dorothy Searles Dorothy Searles ... Self
Ray Searles Ray Searles ... Self
Carleen Simpson Carleen Simpson ... Self
Uwe E. Reinhardt Uwe E. Reinhardt ... Self
Chellie Pingree Chellie Pingree ... Self
Kevin W. Concannon Kevin W. Concannon ... Self
Marjorie E. Powell Marjorie E. Powell ... Self
John Moran John Moran ... Self
Sydney Taurel Sydney Taurel ... Self
Raymond V. Gilmartin Raymond V. Gilmartin ... Self
Thomas Salzmann Thomas Salzmann ... Self
Jilly F. Evans Jilly F. Evans ... Self
Marcia Angell Marcia Angell ... Self
Richard T. Evans Richard T. Evans ... Self (as Richard Evans)


In 1965, Congress enacted two programs: Medicaid to help the poor, and Medicare to help the elderly - but while Medicaid covered drugs, Medicare did not. Beginning in the mid-1980s, politicians began to argue that consumers needed help, but the federal government passed no laws that did help. As debate continues over Medicare prescription drug benefits, FRONTLINE investigates the conflict between pharmaceutical companies and American consumers fed up with paying the highest drug prices in the world. Interviews with legislators, scientists, consumers, and industry leaders reveal how states like Maine (with its program Maine Rx) and Oregon moved to control escalating drug costs in the face of strong opposition from the pharmaceutical industry, which argues that price reductions will only reduce the number of new innovative drugs. The program also explores the tension between the high cost of scientific innovation and society's need to keep drugs and health care affordable. Written by

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Release Date:

19 June 2003 (USA) See more »

Filming Locations:

Augusta, Maine, USA See more »

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