Yesterday, I posted an article about our experiences in Pontelandolfo buying medicines. It makes me want to scream at our legislators for allowing big pharma to decide how much to rape and pillage for profits. Thinking that maybe I was simply a wacko with a pharma conspiracy theory, I was soooo vindicated to read today’s New York Times. Since I don’t want you to think I’m a wacko, I had to post this story from the New York Times.
Here are some excerpts from the article:
With its high prescription prices, the United States spends far more per capita on medicines than other developed countries. Drugs account for 10 percent of the country’s $2.7 trillion annual health bill, even though the average American takes fewer prescription medicines than people in France or Canada, said Gerard Anderson, who studies medical pricing at the Bloomberg School of Public Health at Johns Hopkins University.
Thanks in part to the $250 million last year spent on lobbying for pharmaceutical and health products — more than even the defense industry — the government allows such practices. (pay generic drug makers to stall release and don’t make things over the counter because folks won’t pay more than $20 OTC.) Lawmakers in Washington have forbidden Medicare, the largest government purchaser of health care, to negotiate drug prices. Unlike its counterparts in other countries, the United States Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute, which evaluates treatments for coverage by federal programs, is not allowed to consider cost comparisons or cost-effectiveness in its recommendations. And importation of prescription medicines from abroad is illegal, even personal purchases from mail-order pharmacies.
“Our regulatory and approval system seems constructed to achieve high-priced outcomes,” said Dr. Peter Bach, the director of the Center for Health Policy and Outcomes at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center. “We don’t give any reason for drug makers to charge less.”
And taxpayers and patients bear the consequences.
In all other developed countries, governments similarly use a variety of tools to make sure that drug manufacturers sell their products at affordable prices. In Germany, regulators set drug wholesale and retail prices. Across Europe, national health authorities refuse to pay more than their neighbors for any drug. In Japan, the price of a drug must go down every two years.
Drug prices in the United States are instead set in hundreds of negotiations by hospitals, insurers and pharmacies with drug manufacturers, with deals often brokered by powerful middlemen called group purchasing organizations and pharmacy benefit managers, who leverage their huge size to demand discounts. The process can get nasty; if mediators offer too little for a given product, manufacturers may decide not to produce it or permanently drop out of the market, reducing competition.
Welcome to the USA – home to the big pharma lobby. Read the article – it is part of a series on the cost of medicines in the USA.
I apologize for posting a non- Italy specific tale, but hey, its my blog……