U.S. Lawmakers Should Focus on Prescription Drug Price Controls, Not Reimportation, Op-Ed States
Bipartisan support from Congress and some state government officials to legalize the purchase of lower-cost prescription drugs from Canada is "charming," but "these worthies are fighting the wrong fight and ducking the real one," columnist Robert Kuttner, co-editor of the American Prospect, writes in a Boston Globe opinion piece. Kuttner continues, "Instead of debating head-on whether the United States should have a national health program like Canada's, or at least controlled drug prices, the news media have generally accepted the nonsensical premise that the battle is about imports and the issue is the safety of drugs from Canada."
Kuttner, citing Dartmouth College health policy expert Deborah Stone, writes, "[I]t's not the drugs we should be importing, it's the policy." According to Kuttner, the issue of changing the drug pricing system in the United States is "off the political radar screen" because of the powerful pharmaceutical industry lobby. "To add insult to injury," Kuttner continues, Bush administration officials are seeking to raise prices in countries with lower drug prices that trade with the United States, "so that our high prices won't stick out like a sore thumb."
Kuttner disputes the contention of "the drug industry and its friends in the administration" that the cost of a drug is derived from research and development. Citing the work of author Merrill Goozner, Kuttner writes, "[M]uch of the money attributed to 'research' goes to advertising and copy-cat drugs rather than true breakthroughs, and much of the actual research is financed by taxpayers" through NIH. He concludes, "Forget Canada. We need a national policy to lower drug prices right here in the USA" (Kuttner, Boston Globe, 8/18).