Open thread for night owls: Gov't-paid research at later development stages would mean cheaper drugs
Dean Baker at Truthout writes—The Key to Cheap Drugs: Pay Research Costs Upfront:
Drugs are almost invariably cheap to manufacture. But, if a drug company has a monopoly on a drug that can save a person from cancer or some other deadly or debilitating disease, it will be able to charge a very high price for it. Patients or their families will pay hundreds of thousands of dollars, or more typically, get an insurance company or the government to pick up most of the bill. While there are instances where companies producing generic drugs can gain monopoly power and jack up their prices, this is a relatively small part of the story of high drug prices.
Drugs produced by the brand drug sector account for roughly 75 percent of drug costs, even though they are just 11 percent of sales. This means that generic drugs account for only one-quarter of drug spending despite being almost 90 percent of sales. Even these numbers understate the role of patent and related protections. Some generic drugs also benefit from government-imposed protections, such as a six-month period of exclusivity for the first generic to enter a market. [...]
The justification for patent monopolies is that it gives drug companies the incentive to research and develop new drugs. While the drug companies hugely exaggerate the cost of developing drugs, there is no doubt that it is expensive and they would not be able to recover their research costs if their newly developed drugs were sold in a free market without protection.
But, we don’t have to rely on patent monopolies to pay for drug research. We could, for example, pay for the research costs upfront. In fact, the government already does this to a substantial extent. It spends close to $40 billion a year financing biomedical research through the National Institutes of Health and other government agencies. There is bipartisan agreement that this is money that is very well spent.
However, as it stands, most of this funding is for basic research. It is essentially a gift to the pharmaceutical industry, which does the additional research needed to develop and test drugs and bring them through the Food and Drug Administration’s approval process.
There is no reason that federal funding has to be restricted to more basic research, rather than supporting the development and testing of new drugs. If the federal government were to pay for the later stages of drug development and testing, and bring drugs through the FDA approval process, then newly developed drugs could all be sold as generics. This could mean that the next big cancer drug might sell for a few hundred dollars a year rather than a few hundred thousand.
On this date in 1939, 22,000 Nazis celebrated their fanaticism at Madison Square Garden. Night at the Garden is a chilling, award-winning, 7-minute film about that get-together. You can watch it and read about it here.
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xmember when the president wa snormal?i memberpic.twitter.com/sW9puze8g5— Oliver Willis (@owillis) February 20, 2019
BLAST FROM THE PAST
On this date at Daily Kos in 2007—Bloggers at Last Unite Tony Snow and WH Press Corps:
Tony Snow and «real journalists» finally agreed on something tonight at a roundtable held for very serious people at the National Press Club: Blogs suck. They’re mean. And ... and ... and ... they actually expect reporters to do their jobs!
We’ll skip Tony Snow. Who cares? But via Think Progress, a couple of journalists had some interesting things to say, kind of opening a door into the higher minds that are raised so far above the rest of us.
NBC News’ David Gregory bemoaned how political coverage has «become so polarized in this country...because it’s the internet and the blogs that have really used this White House press conferences to somehow support positions out in America, political views.»
Can you imagine that? The nerve! People actually use White House press conferences to form and support political views! And then they write about those views! Where anybody can read and see and respond and argue and fact-check them! And they haven’t been seen—not once!—at a cocktail party in DC. Next thing you know, they’ll start thinking regular old ordinary people have a right to opinions or something.
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