Demonizing Drugmakers: The Political Assault on the Pharmaceutical Industry

By Bandow, Doug | USA TODAY, September 2003 | Go to article overview

Demonizing Drugmakers: The Political Assault on the Pharmaceutical Industry


Bandow, Doug, USA TODAY


FEW SECTORS of the economy have provided more benefits to consumers than the pharmaceutical industry. Drugmakers have been vilified by patients and politicians alike, however, because of what they see as unreasonably high drug costs. Yet, medicine is not the most important component of the recent rise in health care expenses. Morever, the primary reason for current increases in total drug costs is that more and more people are using newer medicines--which means that consumer benefits are rising even faster

Simplistic comparisons between drug costs in the U.S. and those in other countries have little value. Economic wealth, exchange rates, product liability roles, price controls, and other factors all contribute to the prince el drugs. More important, prices for U.S. pharmaceuticals are not excessive relative to the benefits they offer. Drugs have contributed to the sharp reduction in mortality rates from many diseases, including AIDS. Pharmaceuticals also reduce the cost of alternative treatments. Thus, restricting access to the newest and best drugs can be economically counterproductive.

However, the only way to develop new drugs is to invest heavily in research and development. The $30,000,000,000 spent annually by U.S. drugmakers dwarfs the budget of the National Institutes of Health and investments by foreign drug companies. Profits of U.S. firms tend to be high, but not uniformly so, and they create a "virtuous cycle" that encourages more research and development to create groundbreaking medicine.

Yet, industry critics propose everything from socialized medicine to price controls and limits on patents. Such measures would reduce incentives to create new medicines. It is true that some people, especially poor individuals in less-developed countries, lack sufficient access to pharmaceuticals. Private charily at home and abroad should make them more available to those who are most in need, and Washington should include a drug benefit as part of overall Medicare reform. In the meantime, states should help needy seniors through limited pharmaceutical access programs. In addition, policymakers must avoid taking steps that would, intentionally or not, wreck a world-leading industry and deny people access to life-saving medicines.

Many Americans owe their health and lives to new products that emerge on a regular basis from the pharmaceutical industry. In the coming years, genetic research is likely to dramatically expand the benefits of pharmaceutical R&D. One might fairly expect most people, especially those who are ill, to be grateful. However, demonstrators around the world are targeting the pharmaceutical industry, apparently for daring to sell the AIDS drugs that it created at high cost. The tome for the war on "Big Pharma" was set in the 2000 presidential race, when then-Vice Pres. Al Gore campaigned against drugmakers with faux populist rhetoric: "Big tobacco, big oil. the big polluters, the pharmaceutical companies, the HMOs, sometimes you have to be willing to stand up and say no, so families can have a better life." It was an astonishing comparison that equated companies that make life-saving products with those that often are accused of harming consumers. Yet, in the same speech, the Vice President acknowledged "a time of almost unimaginable medical breakthroughs"--produced by the very companies he was attacking.

Although George W. Bush won the election, his Administration largely abandoned its defense of drug patents at later meetings of the World Trade Organization. In the tall of 2001, Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson implicitly threatened to override Bayer's patent for Cipro if the company did not sharply cut the drug's price during negotiations to purchase a large quantity for protection against the new threat of anthrax bioterrorism.

Legislators have been even more hostile. Rep. Bernard Sanders (1-Vt.) argues that because people can't afford necessary drugs, "many are suffering and even dying. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Demonizing Drugmakers: The Political Assault on the Pharmaceutical Industry
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.