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Waiting on the Government
Perhaps those at the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) who are responsible for more delays in the approval of the drug Eteplirsen were inspired by the imaginative approach of their colleagues at the Department of Veterans Affairs, who compared the long delays in treating veterans to waiting in line at Walt Disney World. It is "the quality of the overall experience" that the VA says we should consider, not the time it takes. . . . Read more

First, Do No Harm: A Few Simple Rules for the FDA
You and your physician should not have to ask the FDA for permission to use a medication. If you have a terminal illness, you should especially not have to ask the FDA for permission to live. Unfortunately current law says that you do. The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that you must comply with that law. . . . Read more

FDA Horror Stories
You may think you have the right of access to drugs that could save your life. But at the urging of the Federal Drug Administration, the U.S. Supreme Court does not agree.
 
The FDA has vigorously defended its power to deny drugs to the terminally ill, and it has been successful. Apparently, you have no right to the use of any drug without government permission, no matter how long it takes to get it, if ever. And the FDA has no sense of urgency about anything except the preservation of its own powers. . . . Read more

The Power of the FDA Must End
The Food and Drug Administration is a huge, unwieldy, distant and indifferent bureaucracy. After more than a century of regulation, it follows a well-established pattern in the history of the U.S. Government. It relentlessly, voraciously and persistently seeks to increase its spending, regulations, authority and staff. The result is the subordination of the best interests of patients in favor of serving the FDA’s congressional and ideological patrons. . . . Read more

Asking the Government for Permission to Live
The Food and Drug Administration has gone to court to prevent the Colorado-based firm Regenerative Sciences from using stem cells developed in one part of your body (bone marrow) to repair damage in other parts of your body, such as joints. The FDA objects to the fact that these cells are chemicals, the use of which the agency has the power to regulate even though the cells are taken from your body to later be injected back into your body. . . . Read more

Freedom from the FDA
The FDA adds billions of dollars to the cost of developing new drugs and delays their use for years. Yet it is so obsessed with predicting exactly how each drug will perform for any patient—with any condition, in any dosage, for any length of time and in any combination with any other drug or combination of drugs in any dosage—that it often loses sight of safety. So a few years ago the FDA proposed the creation of a new "Drug Safety Board" to provide for drug safety. One would have thought that was the purpose of the whole agency. . . . Read more

Finding Alternatives to the Food and Drug Administration
First of all, we need to realize that neither the FDA nor anyone else can do the impossible. When a new drug comes to market, no one can know all of its side effects, nor the impact on all other medical conditions that a patient might have, nor how it might interact with any dosage of any combination of an infinite number of other drugs—nor the cumulative effect of ten, twenty, or thirty years of use. If omniscience is required, no new drug will come to market. The good news, however, is that computers and the Internet now provide excellent tools to accumulate and tabulate data on the impact of every new drug. . . . Read more

Free Markets: The Key to New Drugs at a Reasonable Price
The U.S. pharmaceutical industry spends $22 billion a year on research and development of new drugs. Unlike government-funded research—which can be spent to develop drugs that no one needs or that duplicate existing drugs—pharmaceutical companies must get results. In order to recover their investment, their new drugs actually have to work. The continuing flow of new drugs that these firms produce is the best hope we have to treat and cure our ailments. . . . Read more

A Prescription for Disaster
At a cost of $400 billion over 10 years, Congressional Republicans have agreed in Conference Committee—with the enthusiastic encouragement of a Republican president—to the greatest expansion of government in two generations. This new Medicare program can only result in what government supplied health care has always produced in the U.S. and elsewhere: fewer new drugs and a lot more government. Of course, after a few years in practice we all know the program will end up costing a lot more. . . . Read more

 


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Free Markets: The Key to New Drugs at a Reasonable Price

By Richard E. Ralston

Government control of prescriptions drugs and their prices would blow up the pipeline of the new medications that have significantly improved the lives of millions of Americans.

The U.S. pharmaceutical industry spends $22 billion a year on research and development of new drugs. Unlike government-funded research—which can be spent to develop drugs that no one needs or that duplicate existing drugs—pharmaceutical companies must get results. In order to recover their investment, their new drugs actually have to work. The continuing flow of new drugs that these firms produce is the best hope we have to treat and cure our ailments.

Senator Edward Kennedy is a longtime advocate of government-run health care and he has serious long-term plans for government intervention in the medical profession. Kennedy, who co-sponsored the HMO Act of 1973, which instituted subsidies for HMOs, is the person most responsible for the Senate’s Medicare prescription drug plan and he has made it clear that drug subsidies for seniors are the first step toward government control of medicine. Kennedy’s stated priority for the next step in this process is government control of prescription drug prices.

In addition to discovering and testing drugs, pharmaceutical companies also face enormous administrative costs to obtain FDA approval to put drugs on the market. Hospitals and physicians who dispense drugs also absorb the high cost of complying with a dizzying array of government regulations. If drug firms know that a drug’s price is established by the state—not by patients—there is no interest in discovering, testing and creating new drugs.

Drug prices have gone up because demand for better drugs has gone up. Drugs that provide astonishing new relief or a cure are priced high enough to recover development costs and provide capital for more effective research.

Yes, scientists working hard to develop new drugs make a lot of money—and they should. They deserve it. A free market in pharmaceuticals is the only way to insure the flow of new, breakthrough drugs and competitive pricing.

An authentically free market means other companies—anywhere in the world—are free to develop drugs that are equally or more effective, or competitors who produce similar drugs that are almost as effective at a lower price.

Controls on drugs, doctors, and prices will distort the drug market from the science stage to the pricing stage. Congress must face the fact that its laws cannot create a single new drug and that government force will only restrict and inhibit the scientist seeking new medicines.

Advocates of government-controlled medicine, such as Senator Kennedy, assume that any new drug brought to market—at whatever cost—must be provided by those who produce it to anyone who wants it at a price determined by government decree. According to this view, the government, and only the government, should supply each of our most basic needs.

The result will be a nation of people dependent on government handouts for all essential requirements of life—hardly the republic of free, prosperous individuals the Founding Fathers envisioned. But even the pathetic prospect of the American people lining up for government drugs will not reverse the laws of cause and effect: great minds—including those working in science, medicine and pharmaceutical research—will not work under coercion and neither President Bush nor Senator Kennedy nor their state-sponsored prescription drug coverage will insure a continuing development of effective new medication.

Americans who cherish their freedom, particularly seniors who treasure their independence, must reply to the threat of government prescription drugs with the only appropriate response: Leave my drugs—which means those who produce them—alone!

Richard E. Ralston is Executive Director of Americans for Free Choice in Medicine.

Copyright © 2003 Americans for Free Choice in Medicine. All rights reserved.

 

 

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