Sending the Wrong Signal to Big Pharma–Drug reform and generics

It’s too bad that health care reform has been gutted by special interests. In addition to the Nelson and Landrieu obscenities drug companies have taken advantage.

This is not new behavior for these guys. The patented drug pharmaceutical industry has always been in the forefront of dubious practices aimed at making money, not improving care.

I can recall as a senior medical student being taking for a weekend to New York, all paid for by a drug company. On graduation these so called “ethical” pharmaceutical companies gifted students with doctor bags, books, and instruments all for the purpose of maintaining brand consciousness.

It’s therefore a little disconcerting to watch these same interests work to undermine parts of health “reform” to maintain their grip on products and pricing. Included in the bill are:

extensive protections against generic versions of pricey biotech medicines, an incentive for Medicare recipients to use more brand-name drugs,

more, not less, patent protection for drugs costing more than most U.S. citizens make in a year.

Like the House bill, the Senate bill gives the Food and Drug Administration power to allow biogenerics onto the U.S. market. Such protein-based medicines treat cancer and other conditions but can cost tens of thousands of dollars a year per patient.
Generic makers welcomed the pathway to approval, but the bills provide for a 12-year period of exclusivity for brand-name drugs before a biogeneric can be approved. The Obama administration had sought just five to seven years of protection. (Medicynical emphasis)

Drug companies claim they need the protection to recoup research costs. But if they have to charge $10,000/month and more for new biotech drugs then they are either exceptionally inefficient (FYI they spend tens of billions on marketing which they have to also recoup), or the drug is simply too expensive for our system to afford. Sadly to this point most of these new agents offer only slight, if any (that is no proven survival benefit) over other therapies. Paying a premium for such agents is a little nuts.

The Senate seems to have outdone itself in protecting drug companies, how about something for U.S. taxpayers who will be paying the bills for these new but, so far, marginally effective drugs.


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