Skip to comments.Americans betrayed by Democratic senators with surprise amendment that protects Big Pharma monopoly
Posted on 05/08/2007 9:45:03 AM PDT by BlazingArizona
Consumers expecting a miracle in the Senate that would end Big Pharma's monopoly and the FDA-enforced drug racket now operating in the United States will be sorely disappointed by yesterday's events. Fifteen Democratic senators (led by Sen. Edward Kennedy) abandoned consumer interests and joined a Republican-organized amendment that would protect Big Pharma's stranglehold over U.S. consumers by blocking the importation of prescription drugs from other countries...
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What stupidity. Here’s a clue, folks: It costs well over a BILLION dollars to research and develop a new drug. And that does not count the massive cost of lawsuits etc. Now, if the drug companies can’t make up that price tag and make a BIG profit, why would they risk it?
Anyone who does not understand that does not understand what it takes to develop a new drug, the potential liability involved, and the free market in general.
Frankly, I’m shocked that the Democra#s get it...
The vote was not anything so noble.
They voted to require the government to certify that the drugs being imported are safe and effective.
The government agency that would be tasked with that job has already said they can’t do so because they have no regulatory authority over the foreign entities that would be importing the drugs.
So it effectively kills the program, unless the democrats manage to throw another billion dollars at the agency and push for reciprical agreements with other countries to give our agency the access necessary.
The more fair way would be to distrubute the development costs over the entire world instead of just the chumps who live here in the US. Then start enforcing patents so countries can't strongarm drug companies by making them offers like "sell it for $0.10/pill or we'll just produce it ourselves."
BTW, I do agree that it’s partially not fair that other countries’ citizens pay much less for their meds. Then again, they don’t have the sue-happy environment, byzanine FDA, and all the other related hurdles of doing biz in the US.
The answer includes the following: (1) Accept that new drugs are risky, and lessen the massive regulatory burden on bringing them to market. (2) Provide protection against insanely huge lawsuits barring intentional acts, gross (and I mean GROSS) negligence, etc.
That, or accept the cost of massive regulation, effective testing and lawsuits.
Here is what the FDA has to say about counterfeit drugs: http://www.fda.gov/oc/initiatives/counterfeit/qa.html Yes, they are going to be cheaper, but there is a good chance they either won’t help you or might actually hurt you.
One of the reasons for pricing differential between 1st and 3rd world countries is to reduce/prevent widespread patent violations and theft of intellectual property.
Those third world governments feel free to allow their corporations to violate US companies IP rights if the price is right. Differential pricing reduces the financial incentive to do so.
Sucks, but it’s the truth. Also, considering the contaminated wheat gluten coming out of China, do we really want them gearing up to produce counterfiet prescription drugs to sell to us when the border is thrown open.
Do you know how much money is spent trying to convince you to go to your doctor to ask for a certain kind of drug by name? Do you know if you need viagra or cialis? The drug companies are trying to get you to make the choice rather than your doctor and spending billions to do it. That’s not R&D.
Now THAT I agree with! Well said.
I don't know if it is a case of getting it or if there are specific reasons why each of these senators voted for it. Kennedy and Kerry on the list makes me believe that there is some sort of money connection in Mass either having to do with the drug industry or the fact that Mass is close to Canada. NJ has a huge drug industry with many prominent labs located there, which explains Frank Lautenberg and Menéndez. Murray, Cantwell,and Baucus come from border states with Canada. I say follow the money.
Marketing saves consumers money. How is Wal-Mart able to offer customers everyday low prices? Lots of marketing, advertising, and PR spend.
To make up the difference in what they lose from name brand products..they offer cheap products from China and other 3rd world countries?
Here's a solution to all the whiners: Start your own company and invent your own medications and then you can sell them for whatever price you like.
Patents are necessary. They are so fundamental that they are an actual enumerated power in the US Constitution.
It costs the same in R&D, testing, and liability exposure to develop a new microprocessor. But because Intel and AMD did not make that Faustian decision to buy government "protection" from competition in return for massive regulation, their products sell in an openly competitive world market while still returning large profits.
Compared to many other stores, Wal-Mart seems pretty light on the advertising. I only get Sunday ads for them about once a month instead of every week like other major (and not so major) stores in the area. They don't even seem to have that many commercials compared to other retailers.
I ask the same question once more: when Intel sells chips on the world market, it also has to keep its legal staff looking for patent violations. Its marketing situation is the same as pharma: it advertises to consumers, but sells indirectly ("Make sure your new Dell has Intel Inside..."). It does not use these factors as an excuse to charge Americans extra. Drug companies charge us more for one reason only - because they have had laws passed that force us to pay higher prices.
I'm sure Intel wishes it had such clout.
You are missing the point. Marketing saves money for consumers in th end.
The Democrats know it was all just empty retoric. Americans bare the brunt of the development of new drugs. Foreign government strong-arm drug companies into selling at much discounted rates. The drug companies view the R&D as sunk costs and several companies have similar drugs, so the companies usually cave.
However, what floats the R&D budgets of companies is the US market. Like it or not, if we re-import drugs at a lower price, the R&D for new drugs companies will drop. We’ll get current drugs cheaply and then no new drugs ever ever ever.
Hmmm, I think that 99% of Americans would recognize the Wal-Mart smiley-face logo. Their marketing is very effective, regardless of whether they buy ads in your paper or on TV.
Marketing is not the same as advertising.
Sorry that is not true all the time either. I know a research scientist who has developed a new substance that will effect most areas of medicine. The Chinese are already using it, it is being used in Veterinary Medicine already, and Europe is just now allowing it’s use.
It was developed/invented for a few million dollars of government grants and the big Pharm companies are PO'd. In fact the big Pharms have been trying to buy the patents on this product so they can manufacture and sell this product in an effort to recover the 500 million $ they have put into their failed research in this area. I know what the figures are. Big Pharm would make this product for $11 ea, and sell it to hospitals for $250 ea. The hospitals would mark it up from there. All of this on someone else’s research and discovery. They do not have a dime into the research that led to the discovery or refinement of this product but they would still financially rape the public with the markup if they could buy the patents.
I am proud of the doc who developed this product both for his brilliance as a research scientist and also for not selling out to the big Pharm companies. Our Senate just passed another bill that protects our Pharmaceutical companies from competition outside our borders. Many Democrats had to cross party lines to help pass this bill. This is the real story in this. Our politicians are owned by the Pharmaceutical companies.
“However, what floats the R&D budgets of companies is the US market. Like it or not, if we re-import drugs at a lower price, the R&D for new drugs companies will drop. Well get current drugs cheaply and then no new drugs ever ever ever.”
One conceivable way out of this may be for the US govt to make it illegal for American companies to dump in foreign countries for less than the selling price in the US. This can to be a can of worms, with Europe and Canada retaliating any way they can to save their sacred cow price controls. Then we would probably have to make exceptions for impoverished countries, e.g. Sub-Saharan Africa.
“Patents are necessary.”
And absolutely useless when you are dealing with people in countries with governments that won’t actively prosecute infringement cases.
“Marketing saves consumers money. How is Wal-Mart able to offer customers everyday low prices? Lots of marketing, advertising, and PR spend.”
I am talking about Pharma spending billions to advertise to consumers (as opposed to doctors). How does that save people money? It just drives up the costs at which they sell the drugs so that they can maintain their profit margins.
What on earth are you talking about? What "laws" force us to pay higher prices? Do you not understand the concept of patents?
That's a problem for diplomats, not for businessmen. If faced with such recalcitrant gov'ts their only choice is to make some profit or make none.
I agree the US should make foreign lands pay their fair share of Pharma R&D costs. I don't agree with FReepers who want cheap stuff just because they think they deserve it. That's becoming no worse than the foreigners who blatantly steal others' intellectual property (or threaten to do so.)
The US Gov't has no power to hinder exports. For good reason.
Not true. If there was very little demand, drugs would have to be much more expensive to recoup the development costs.
Just as in the case of any other product, the stimulation of demand by making people aware of the product (i.e. marketing) is what causes the price of drugs to be as low as they are.
Drug companies do not spend any more on marketing than they have to.
What did Lipitor cost in 1970? What did Plavix cost then? Would you like to guess?
“They do not have a dime into the research that led to the discovery or refinement of this product but they would still financially rape the public with the markup if they could buy the patents.”
Most likely your friend has a good idea of the future economic worth of his work and can make a deal with big pharma and rape THEM accordingly. It may be to his advantage to do so because he may not have the necessary marketing, manufacturing, or legal know-how. Or maybe he does, in which case he can tell them to take a flying leap.
The rhetoric that you hear from Democrats who favor price considers only producion costs and not R&D. The fact remains that imposing price controls on drugs ala Canada and Europe would kill R&D.
You mean Pharma Corps aren’t charities? /sarcasm
Pray tell, how you would enforce the patents? Do you think that the drug companies want their intellectual property stolen? Do you think that they want to give away all the AIDS medicine to Africa? Do you think they don’t want to sell their product at free market cost in Canada? And what do you propose the price of drugs should be in Mexico, Africa, most of Asia? Same price as the US, when the average income is about $500 per year?
Do you think Big Pharma is a worse plague on the system than the trial lawyers who are driving up costs with their frivolous lawsuits?
Lots of biotech in Mass. Kennedy has always been good to both biotech and Pharma. It is the only good thing he has ever done.
You can shop worldwide online for just about any legal product - except your prescriptions. Being required to buy locally in this one instance gives the seller unique power to control the market.
Free Trade is good. Unless its not good for Big Pharm.
The bulk of Pharmaceutical spending comes from marketing.
There are import tariffs and restrictions on all kinds of products. You may think you've found a golden loophole, but it is foolishness to think the manufacturers are going to send enough volume of pills to Canada to have them be re-imported in the quantities Americans would need.
The price in the US is what it is. If you want Canadian prices, move to Canada.
So when is Congress going to shut down food imports?
I've done that on other products. One of the most recent was a Mozart CD collection (recommended here at FR) which was over $300 at amazon.com, but about $100 (including shipping and currency exchange rates) at amazon.de in Germany. If American consumers could buy drugs across borders, then the drug companies would have to spread their R&D costs across all their customers instead of just sticking Americans with them.
I think that many of the Dems who voted for this just want to keep current prices high to cause the collapse and ultimate nationalization of the American health care system sooner. The drug companies are feeding the aligator and hoping to be the last one eaten eith allies like that.
If Americans want to see an end of all innovation and forget about any new drugs, just let this go through.
They’ve already started. Try buying some runny imported cheese made with unpasteurized milk. ;-)
Yes, I have also thought of that as a possible solution. However if we still sell to sub-Saharan africa at a discount then the Europeans will import from there.
Selling products at different prices in different markets is a common practice, and is not a problem so long as buyers have a countervailing right to shop around for the best deal. Neither is there anything unique about the safety issue with drugs either. A large percentage of the products we import are potentially dangerous. When we import a shank of New Zealand lamb or a Mercedes, we need to be concerned about product safety. Many products need to be tariffed and inspected, but we still routinely import them. The one exception is medications.
Were you aware that Clinton carved out a special exemption from the drug import ban for homosexuals? Yep - if you're of that politically-important minority, you get a free pass to order medication by mail from overseas. Why don't the rest of us have this right too?
Not true. The majority of pharma spending is on compliance with regulations.
No.......I should have put a sarcasm tag on the end of my post to you. ;)
Since when does “free trade” include FORCING a company to sell a specific amount of their product to a foreign government?
Because that’s what this bill does.
As are most Medical Schools......the FDA....research facilities....etc. I think it's a two-edged sword. They're a necessary entity.... but they're also run amok.
This research Doc does have the ability to take this product to market. He has made the decision to see this through to the end. By keeping control of the product and process he will be a very wealthy man and the public will be paying much less.
He is smart enough to know that the world will not measure his success by the size of his bank account. I believe that his line of products will be saving lives in Iraq within a few weeks.