April 04, 2005

On Price Controls

Via Oakland Jeff, a TCS piece on what drug-reimportation will do to our pharmaceutical industry and therefore the future of medicine.

Posted by Attila at April 4, 2005 11:20 AM

Thankfully, Michael Moore is going to expose the whole game in his new docudrama. A man whom one would like would be counting on modern medicine to work miracles

Posted by: jeff at April 4, 2005 12:48 PM

We need to tell countries who threaten to violate patents to coerce lower drug prices that we consider that to be theft of intellectual property and an act of war.

Posted by: Walter E. Wallis at April 4, 2005 01:43 PM

I actually work in the pharmaceutical industry (not in sales or even development though), but I've been saying this for a long time, ever since the issue came up to begin with.

Lots of people get completely caught up in the short-term aspect of things. "It's not FAIR that they don't have to pay as much!" While I can sympathize with people who have trouble paying for the new hot medication, it's hard to bring them past the emotional response.

If people want cheap drugs, they are free to go buy aspirin at the local grocery store, or any one of a thousand medications that have been around for a while and are available in generics. Those will be cheap, but when asked, no one will ever want to do that. They want the new, better one, and why shouldn't they?

The only problem is that unless people are willing to pay for it, the new better one will never exist. Making reimportation illegal is not the violation of free trade here. That would be the foreign price controls that created the issue in the first place.

Posted by: Christiana Ellis at April 6, 2005 08:56 AM

To me the funniest people are the ones who invert things entirely and get mad at the U.S. government because drugs are cheaper in Canada, and they "should" be cheaper here as well. (Get it?--the U.S. government should fix the problem!)

Posted by: Attila Girl at April 6, 2005 09:10 AM

The discussion just gets difficult when you talk to someone who really needs one prescription or another, but it is a real financial hardship. They see a way that they can have it cheaper.

Telling them that the difference is because other countries aren't paying enough sounds like saying "Big Pharmaceutical companies should be making higher profits at your expense." It's hard to argue this issue reasonably because the people who support reimportation are doing so based almost completely on emotional responses. "But I NEED it!"

I've had this argument with a number of people and I remember one person who suggested, "We wouldn't be having this problem if only we'd gone with Universal Health Care." At that point, the intellectual vacuum around me caused my head to explode. (I got better.)

Posted by: Christiana Ellis at April 6, 2005 12:23 PM

One thing people don't seem to realize is that if the people of all countries paid their share, we in the U.S. wouldn't be paying disproportionately more: the reason some prices are so high is that the burden is not spread out more. (Obviously, I don't think villagers in African countries should pay full price for AIDS medicine, but we wouldn't have those treatments without research--and I certainly think middle-class/rich Mexicans and Canadians should be paying full price.)

I don't like the fact that my sleeping pills cost as much as they do, but I like the fact that there are good ones available now that really work without as high a risk of addiction and side effects.

Everthing costs something.

Posted by: Attila Girl at April 6, 2005 01:00 PM

Make other countries pay market rate for pharms, and if they violate the patent, cut them off completely.

Posted by: Walter E. Wallis at April 10, 2005 01:08 PM

Share photos on twitter with Twitpic "Let the issues be the issue.

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