WASHINGTON — It sounds simple enough: Let Medicare negotiate drug prices and help bring down prices for consumers.
With growing public frustration over the price of prescription drugs, Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders have made that idea a centerpiece of their campaigns, and congressional Democrats have been kicking the notion around in broad terms for years.
But policy experts say the candidates and lawmakers are exaggerating how much power the government actually has to drive down drug prices on a large scale. The reality is that any attempt to negotiate with drug makers would be challenging, without any guarantees of an outcome that would make a significant difference to most consumers’ bottom line.
When there is competition, why not allow a reverse auction, winner take all? For instance, Novartis and Bristol make competing leukemia drugs (Gleevec, Sprycel) sold for $90k. How low would they go for 100% of the market?
Why not allow import of generic medications from countries such as Canada or Britain where the quality control standards of manufacturing are at least as good as the USA? Consider the recent price gouging for Daraprim (pyrimethamine) which, 50 years ago in South Asia was available at 1c a pill for Malaria prophylaxis. So, it is not a new drug and the argument that “research and development costs have to be covered” does not, in this case hold water.
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