Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Escaping Big Pharma’s Pricing With Patent-Free Drugs; New York Times, July 18, 2017

Fran Quigley, New York Times; Escaping Big Pharma’s Pricing With Patent-Free Drugs

"Although President Trump said before taking office that drug companies were “getting away with murder” and had campaigned on lowering drug prices, his administration is doing the opposite. A draft order on drug pricing that became public in June would grant pharmaceutical companies even more power to charge exorbitantly. For example, it could shrink a federal program that requires companies to sell at a discount to clinics and hospitals serving low-income patients.

Exorbitant prices are one thing that’s very wrong with the way we make medicines. The other is: medicines for what? If a malady has no market in wealthy countries, it gets no attention. Poor-country diseases, known as “neglected diseases,” have a ferocious impact: One of every six people in the world, including a half-billion children, suffers from neglected diseases. Yet of the 756 new drugs approved between 2001 and 2011, less than 4 percent targeted those diseases. The industry spends far more on lobbying government agencies to extend monopolies on high-cost drugs — or hand out deals like the Zika vaccine — than it does on research for a vaccine against dengue fever, which poses a risk for 40 percent of the world’s population.

But there’s one drug company that behaves differently."

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