The Pharmaceutical Dance

THE PHARMACEUTICAL DANCE….Andrew Tobias imagines a parallel universe in which the federal government isn’t prohibited from negotiating bulk discounts with pharmaceutical companies:

I?m out of my depth here, so you will correct me if this is stupid. But what if Medicaid were allowed to negotiate?

Rather than ultimate brinksmanship ? where if a deal couldn?t be reached on some lifesaving drug the patients would just die ? the dance could have gone this way:

?Hey, this is a great drug!? ?Yes, isn?t it?? ?We want to buy 100 million of these pills a year.? ?Great. They?re $7 each.? ?Ouch!? ?Well, for you, and in quantity like that, maybe $6.? ?But you charge the Canadians $1.40, and your cost of production is only 7 cents.? ?That?s true, but it costs us billions to develop these drugs. We need to make a profit commensurate with our investment and our risk, or else why would we continue to advance the frontiers of medicine.? ?You have a good point. How about we pay double what the Canadians pay??

?Triple.?

?Double.?

?Triple.?

?Double.?

….I have nothing whatever against the Canadians or the Brits or the Swiss ? but maybe some of this would lead to their being charged a little more for drugs so that we can be charged a little less more.

If you live in a Republican district, this is a question you should ask your congressman the next time you see him. “Why do you believe that Americans should pay artificially inflated prices for drugs in order to allow Italians and Danes to pay artificially lower prices? As an American congressman, shouldn’t you be watching out for Americans?”