In Reply To:
Why Europe Lags in Pharmaceuticals and Biotech

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By PuddinHead42
December 19, 2003

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 A couple of additional thoughts�.

Many here and elsewhere have suggested (IMHO correctly) that the US is unfairly subsidizing the health care of others. Some have suggested that if we were to allow cheaper imports, then it would end up bringing more of a balance to the situation. Americans would start getting cheaper drugs, and either there would be drug shortage in the cheap countries because drug companies would find it in the benefit to restrict supplies there (possible driving up prices). Or, the drug companies would then have enough incentive (or cojones) to refuse to sell at the "negotiated" prices. At that point, these more regulated countries may find it necessary to pay a little more or get cut off.

In a utopian price-controlled world, maybe this would work. Everyone gets together and decides that the fixed price for a drug is based on a country's GDP per pop. They would agree to pay this price or not sell the drug. They would also agree not to allow export at their price. This way the poorest countries are subsidized by the richer and everyone can afford the drug equally.

In regards to the discussion of where drugs are made. In this global economy, drugs are "made" in the country that subsidizes, regardless of where the lab is geographically located. By that definition, most drug are "made" in the US.

There are obviously lots of incentive problems in the system. One is that drug companies develop drugs most likely to make a profit, not most likely to save lives (for the most part). How many statin drugs to we need. Americans are always in search of the magic pill: what percent of people on zocor could do just as well with reasonable diet and exercise. I will bet you my paycheck that 80% of the people that "need" Viagra won't need it if Pamela Anderson was giving them a lap dance. [This bet not legally binding J]

Another problem is that a lot of seniors are on way too many medications. As an example, my grandmother was on 8 or 9 medications and at some point was starting to feel worse, so of course wanted another magic pill. My dad sat down with her doctor and the doctor decided he could eliminate 5 medications. She started feeling way better. Does anyone think they study how 9 drugs interact?

Every system needs some kind of controls, and a free market is not always the best solution, especially in health care. There is not an infinite pot of money and medicare or a mutual insurance pool has to make choices of how to best spend limited money. Sure a $2 million surgery can possibly save conjoined twins, but the same money could save hundreds, maybe thousand of kids via vaccines. Should an 85 year old get subsidized Zocar to add 6 months to the end of their life? At whose expense?

If I am dying of cancer I will want my insurance company to spend $100,000 to prolong my life 5 months. But if I am paying for it I will make a different choice. My family may be willing to mortgage their future for some more time with me, but I may not be willing to do that to them.

Well, I have been way too long winded. So, discuss�


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