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Home Publications Blogs Beat the Press The Folks at National Public Radio Can't Imagine Alternatives to Patent Financing for Prescription Drugs Either

The Folks at National Public Radio Can't Imagine Alternatives to Patent Financing for Prescription Drugs Either

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Monday, 30 December 2013 06:03

Morning Edition picked up the theme of patent protection for prescription drugs providing a trade-off between affordability and innovation seen in the NYT today. This is an inaccurate description of the issues, since there are other more efficient mechanisms for financing research. The patent system for financing drug research both leads to bad health outcomes and is a substantial drag on growth and job creation since it pulls hundreds of billions of dollars out of consumers' pockets every year. It would be good if NPR would stop getting the framing for such pieces from the drug industry.

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Two Can Play the Morality Game in America
written by Last Mover, December 30, 2013 7:54
But Gregg Alton, a vice president at Gilead, says the high price is fully justified. "We didn't really say, 'We want to charge $1,000 a pill,' " Alton says. "We're just looking at what we think was a fair price for the value that we're bringing into the health care system and to the patients."


Finally, an outright admission by an economic predator that predators - not markets - set prices based on "compassionate conservatism" and all the rest of it, as if Big Pharma was a private charity deciding who gets what of a "scarce resource" on the basis of "fairness" in a morality play.

The entire article smacks of a moral condescension coming from a "loser liberal taker" rather than an outright economic predator. For example:

Hepatitis C is highly contagious so its cure benefits the healthy as well via negative externality reduction, so that's one reason why it should priced so high. Excuse me, but that's a reason its price should be low.

If not cured on the first attempt it can cost much more to cure later, so it should be priced high to reflect the benefit of wiping it out on the first try. Excuse me, but innovations based on cost reductions don't enter "free competitive markets" successfully by setting their prices higher to capture inefficiencies of what they just replaced.

Ok America. Two can play this game. If the predataors can smugly sit back and declare their selling prices set on everything other than market forces, at a thousand dollars a pill in this case, let's give this economic power to other sellers, oh say, the sellers of water for example.

As the rightful owners of water here in the good old US of A, Americans clearly have the economic right and granted powers therein to set prices for water used by Big Pharma to process pharmaceuticals based on the value received don't they.

Therefore it clearly follows, if pills from Big Pharma have such incredibly high value at $1000 each, then water used by Big Pharma to process these pills should easily fetch $100/gallon and it would still be a bargain at those prices wouldn't it.

Looking forward to the next NPR report on its series of morality plays in America between makers and takers, which replaced free markets long ago:

Who should get what and how much based on value - not cost. We report, you decide.
No shame
written by Jennifer, December 30, 2013 9:25
"We're just looking at what we think was a fair price for the value that we're bringing into the health care system and to the patients."

Yeah @last mover I could not believe he just put it out there like that. But, he thinks they can get it "down to the high 100s, low thousands" for non-Western countries. Why, you're welcome. Basically that whole story was set up as "How much money does this company deserve?" The idea that they don't deserve anything was not even contemplated. And that water analogy is no joke, as that has been an area of increasing privatization in the past 10 years.
...
written by djb, December 30, 2013 9:32

in response to

"written by Last Mover, December 30, 2013 7:54 "

don't give them any ideas

the president of whyy (npr branch) in philadlephia is also on the board of directors of a privatized water company

they might want to charge us 1000 times for medications and 100 times for water
...
written by djb, December 30, 2013 9:47

the funding for drug research is far and away provided for by the government

not by the drug companies

...
written by watermelonpunch, December 30, 2013 8:58

Drugs are not a human right.

Water is not a human right.

Food is not a human right.

Air is not a human right.

The planet is not a human right.

Freedom is not a human right.

Your life is not a human right.

Human rights are not a human right.


So on and so forth.

written by djb, December 30, 2013 9:32
the president of whyy (npr branch) in philadlephia is also on the board of directors of a privatized water company


Pretty chilling.
Drug company innovation isn't very innovative
written by don simpson, December 31, 2013 12:18
Drug companies concentrate on research into drugs that provide palliative relief for the symptoms of chronic diseases affecting a large number of people and drugs that must be taken for a lifetime to prevent disease. These are the most profitable categories of drugs.

These are necessary but society needs more. We need more drugs that cure disease. We need more vaccines. We need drugs for all diseases, not just the ones that affect the most people. We need more research into what it means to live a healthier lifestyle.
The profits from successful drugs funds a lot of research that we don't need. It funds research into me too drugs that are intended to just come close but don't infringe on another company's patent of a successful drug. It funds research into changing a successful drug just enough that it can be issued a new patent. It funds payments to generic drug companies to keep them from making a low cost version of a drug coming out of patent protection.
...
written by urban legend, December 31, 2013 6:53
There is no reason why the patent system cannot be reformed to end abuses like this. Orphan drugs get purchased for distribution as needed by the government, which negotiates fair prices with the company to cover their actual research expenditures, a reasonable charge for the risk assumed in research, and reasonable profit. Even legislation can be used to manage the purchase. A program that works off a centuries-old, universally-accepted and Constitutionally-endorsed concept of intellectual property that is enforced in a decentralized manner, but with necessary reforms to address the abuses specifically, has a much better chance of legislative success than some scheme of bureaucratically-administered prizes. There is no chance in hell that a "don't throw the baby out with the bathwater" industry promotional campaign -- think "Thelma and Louise" on steroids -- will not succeed in building public resistance to a step as radical as taking one class of inventions out of the intellectual property system.

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About Beat the Press

Dean Baker is co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research in Washington, D.C. He is the author of several books, his latest being The End of Loser Liberalism: Making Markets Progressive. Read more about Dean.

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