Canadian Drugs Good?

Nope. Even the Liberal New York Times says that Canadian drugs are not the answer.

It may make political sense to point to Canada as a solution to high prescription drug prices in the United States. But many economists and health care experts say that importing drugs from countries that control their prices would do little to solve the problem of expensive drugs in the United States, where companies are free to set their own prices. Even the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office estimated that allowing Canadian drug imports would have a “negligible” impact on drug spending.

To begin with, there are not enough Canadians, or drugs in Canada, to make much of a dent in the United States. There are 16 million American patients on Lipitor, for instance – more than half the entire Canadian population.

So, seems that it is all political posturing, led by the Democrats and Kerry. Canadian imports will not help. Especially if American drug companies stop exporting as much to Canada for re-export back to the US.

So, what is the answer? The Times seems to feel that it is price control:

But what comes to mind for people like Mr. Love is a political nonstarter: imposing Canadian-style price controls. No Democrat or Republican will be likely to dare to propose such a thing during an election year, or perhaps anytime soon, having seen the political debacle of the Clinton administration’s effort to devise a national health care system – and knowing that the pharmaceutical industry is one of Washington’s most powerful lobbying forces.

Price controls “wouldn’t have a ghost of a chance to pass in the Congress,” said Senator Byron Dorgan, the Democrat from North Dakota who is the sponsor of the main drug reimportation bill in the Senate.

Impose price controls, and you will have US companies abandoning those drugs that they cannot make a decent profit on. The costs to develop drugs are enormous, from start to passing FDA regulations. But, as the Times points out, it is relatively cheap to produce after they pass FDA approval. Companies still need to recoup their costs, though.

Price control is not the answer, nor is raising the export costs, to make the costs in countries like Canada higher. The development and implemantation costs have to be lowered. No one seems to have an answer for that that I have seen, other then making the FDA apporval process less burdensome.

My take is that we live in a free market society, and, as such, if the drug companies want to make a profit, that is their Right. If people want the drugs, they can pay the market price for them. Harsh? Perhaps. Am I annoyed when I have to pay alot for a prescription? No. I know people busted their humps to develop that medicine.

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