Why Doesn’t Every Country Have a Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority?

There are a lot of problems with health care in the United States: the huge number of uninsured, insured people who still can’t afford care and the subsidiary industry of medical billers who add cost and waste to an already inefficient system. All of this often makes it more difficult for individuals to receive the insurance benefits they pay for.

It’s a complicated issue that is tied in with other problems. For example, the high pay of doctors in the United States relative to other countries would be hard to rein in when university tuition is so out of control that medical school graduates are saddled with massive debt.

Not every aspect of the U.S. health care system is easy to repair. But there are some no-brainers, and one of them is passing legislation to deal with the unrestrained greed of drug companies. Companies that make lifesaving drugs have been steadily ratcheting up their prices. The cost for many common drugs, such as insulin and EpiPens, has soared in recent years.

We’ve talked about out-of-control drug prices before. There is a caravan of worried people crossing the border, but it’s desperate Americans crossing into Canada to buy insulin, not Central Americans trying to get into the United States.

What does it tell you that Canada is able to sell the same drugs at a tenth of what Americans pay? It says 90 percent of the price is profit beyond what the company arguably needs to be financially viable. And it’s obscene profit for the sake of obscene profit, even if this decision kills people. Clearly we can’t expect pharmaceutical executives to do the right thing, and unfortunately it’s one of these vampires who Trump put in charge of Health and Human Services.

So politicians who actually care about stopping preventable deaths and misery among their constituents need to make this an issue like Bernie Sanders and other progressives have been. And informed voters need to support them and ask hard questions of the resisters.

Canada does more to regulate drug prices than the United States (though there is not universal support for more stringent regulations). In fact, virtually every developed country does better than the United States, despite the pharmaceutical industry’s global influence.

Actually, the real trailblazer is India. What India has done is create a government agency with the power to change and fix drug prices and to enforce those prices and even the availability of drugs in the country. This matters because an oversight agency can move more quickly than lawmakers when dealing with sudden market changes or despicable corporate behavior.

Maybe some people feel that’s government overreach. If that’s you, think about someone close to you not being able to afford a drug they need. Then, watch a video (there are many) of Congress scolding unrepentant drug company executives because that’s all it can do. Now, consider how important it is to prevent people like that from continuing to toy with lives in the Land of the Free and Uninsured. Is that really the kind of country you want to live in?

Photo credit: Hiraman/Getty Images

39 comments

David C
David C21 hours ago

thanks

SEND
Veronica D
Veronica Danie3 days ago

Thank you so very much.

SEND
Veronica D
Veronica Danie3 days ago

Thank you so very much.

SEND
Veronica D
Veronica Danie3 days ago

Thank you so very much.

SEND
Ben O
Ben Oscarsito3 days ago

Why indeed...?

SEND
heather g
heather g3 days ago

Many Canadians, like Americans, go across the border to Mexico for a range of treatments and I've heard of people travelling to South Africa and India as well.

SEND
Naomi Dreyer
Naomi Dreyer3 days ago

$$$$$$$$$$

SEND
Hui S
Hui S3 days ago

agreed. thanks for sharing.

SEND
Belinda Lang
Belinda Lang3 days ago

Governments that care about the people have a pharmaceutical pricing authority. I am proud of India for helping people afford drugs they need.

SEND
Sherry Kohn
Sherry Kohn4 days ago

Many thanks to you !

SEND