... says US Deputy Health Secretary Alex Azar! From the Guardian...
"The White House is lobbying British ministers to allow the world's main drug companies unrestricted access to the NHS as part of a package of free market reforms for the service. The
He made it clear that he was also in favour of the drug companies being allowed to advertise directly to patients. At the moment they may only advertise to doctors.
He also wanted to share the
"How are we making sure that we don't take steps on cost containment that are short-sighted and prevent the investment in long-term biomedical research and development and innovation, so that when my kids are senior citizens we have the next generation and next, next, next generation of drugs?"
"The White House arguments will increase the mounting pressure on Nice, which is regularly castigated by patient groups and drug companies when it rejects a new medicine from use in the NHS on cost grounds."
""In all of our systems it is so easy to make the decision to cut costs today by going after drug prices, and to not focus on what will be the impact on long-term innovation," he [Azar] said.
My View: Yeah, I am sure that the Brits would LOVE a Medicare boondoggle like ours! There is no doubt that seniors across the UK are begging for an Americanized system of health care.
Then Azar has the audacity to say that these "market reforms" will cause price competition? Find me one iota of evidence to support such a baldfaced lie. The American government decided, nah, we don't need to negotiate prices -- we'll pay whatever y'all good folks in the drug industry would like us to pay. Despite all the free market rhetoric, this is the kind of thing that would make Adam Smith turn over in his grave! In a free market, prices are determined through negotiation, not by fiat.
Arguably, my favorite statement from Azar was the time-honored scare tactic of, to paraphrase, "if drug prices drop, how will they ever have enough money to conduct research to develop new products?" I'd buy that if three things were true:
1) If drug company research was devoted to truly discovering new drugs, rather than copycat me-too meds that add no benefit to patients
2) If drug company research was NOT frequently devoted to conducting trials that simply showed an additional indication for an existing drug in an already crowded market. Risperidone for depression is an example of such (more on that later) -- how many drug treatments do we really need for depression? Or, how about Seroquel for anxiety?
3) If drug company cash was not devoted so highly to marketing as opposed to research
Oh, and as for the new drugs save lives argument, please see this excellent post at the incomparable Pharma Marketing Blog.