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Medicines -- Who Pays and Just How Much?

March 22, 2004

Re "Reining In Prescription Prices Is a Seductive Idea. But It Might Kill You." Commentary, March 18: James Pinkerton applies Ayn Rand's vision of consumers abandoned by commerce to the current debate over how to deal with the high cost of medications. The U.S. consumer should not have to subsidize lower drug prices for Canadians or any other users by paying higher prices than a truly free market (read "level playing field") would suggest. There is no free market in the U.S. if other nations can negotiate discounts and our own citizens cannot.

If we want continuing development of new drugs and affordable medications, our leaders need to (1) remove industry protections that allow price-gouging through artificial market segmentation and (2) decide how to make drug development an investment whose cost is borne as much by tomorrow's consumers as it is by today's oldest and sickest members of society.

Philip Solomita

Palos Verdes Estates

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I am not now nor have I ever been a member of the Richard Nixon fan club, but Pinkerton's assertion that Nixon's price controls caused the energy crisis of the early '70s is both historically inaccurate and factually disingenuous. Perhaps someone should remind Pinkerton of the role the OPEC gang and the oil embargo had in causing that energy crisis.

The scare tactics used by the pharmaceutical lobby in stating that price controls on prescription drugs will bring research and development to a halt are nothing but hogwash. As long as there is a profit to be made, drug companies will continue to develop drugs that "improve and save lives." The only question is how much profit and who pays the bill.

Frederick Brennan

Pasadena

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Why don't we simply treat drugs as any other product in the global economy? Remove price protections and import restrictions, and allow the free market to work its efficient magic. So long as drug prices are artificially protected by layers of government rules and regulations, price controls are the only way to prevent gouging of consumers. One need only compare drug prices in the U.S. with those in Mexico and Canada to see the truth.

Chris Plourde

Venice

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