To the Editor:

The United States pays the highest prices for prescription drugs in the world. In other countries, these drugs can cost 40 to 50 percent or even less than in the U.S. The drug companies, many which are based outside of the U.S., say that they must charge such high prices because of research and development.

The U.S. government contributed $484 million to the developing a cancer drug called Taxol. Then a licensing agreement with Briston-Myers Squibb gave that company a $9 billion Taxol income. The U.S. got only $35 million in returns for their $484 million investment.

No other company in the U.S. spends as much money on lobbying as does Big Pharma. Somehow these drug companies feel it is the duty of the United States to subsidize drug prices?

Taxpayers paid to develop this drug and now taxpayers get to pay once again to use it. Medicare alone paid almost $700 million over five years to buy a drug the government help to develop.

If this makes you angry, call your congressmen/women.

Randy Broussard


(2) comments


If anyone needs further verification that the U.S. government supports high drug prices, here is an article showing how U.S. agencies try to force other nations to do so: "U.S. ‘Disappointed’ by Japanese Plan to Cut Drug Costs"
Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker has written to a senior aide of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe

TOKYO—The U.S. government has written to a senior aide of Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, calling on Tokyo to reconsider a plan that would allow more frequent pharmaceutical price cuts.
The letter from Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker describes how the U.S. is “disappointed” by the Japanese plan to reduce drug prices. Tokyo’s policies “raise serious concerns about the incentive structure for health-care products, as well as about the market’s predictability and transparency,” it said.
Representatives of the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo and the prime minister’s office declined to comment on the letter, dated Dec. 2 and seen by The Wall Street Journal. A Commerce Department representative didn’t immediately have a comment. It wasn’t clear whether the letter was formally delivered to the aide, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga.
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce said it also sent a letter to Mr. Abe making similar points.
“The letters from Secretary Pritzker and U.S. Chamber of Commerce President Tom Donohue underscore the importance to patients in Japan of a good climate for innovation,” said Mark Grayson, a spokesman for Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, a group representing drug companies.
Japan is one of the world’s biggest pharmaceutical markets, contending for the No. 2 position with China behind the U.S., the biggest market. Japan’s total spending on pharmaceuticals reached ¥7.9 trillion ($69 billion) in the year ended March 31.
The Japanese government controls drug prices by setting the price paid by its national health-insurance system. This makes Japan’s policy on drug pricing a matter of concern for U.S. drugmakers such as Merck & Co. and Pfizer Inc., which sell their products in the country.
Mr. Abe’s government, facing large budget deficits, took steps recently to curb its rising pharmaceutical bill. First it slashed by half the price it pays for the cancer drug Opdivo—effective Feb. 1, 2017. The cost for a typical patient using Opdivo for a year will fall to roughly $150,000 from $300,000.
Then, on Nov. 25, a council led by Mr. Abe called on the government to consider reviewing drug prices annually instead of every two years. The move would enable the government to reduce the cost of high-price drugs more quickly, formalizing the tactic it used in the Opdivo case.
Supporters of the changes say that Japan has been paying more than other nations for Opdivo and that the government needs flexibility to keep a lid on medical costs.
Without mentioning Opdivo by name, Ms. Pritzker’s letter said she was disappointed by “ad hoc changes to reduce pharmaceutical reimbursement prices.”
Japan’s move on Opdivo followed publicity in the local press about the high price of the drug, which came after a similar backlash over drug costs in the U.S.
Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. markets Opdivo in the U.S., while Osaka-based Ono Pharmaceutical Co., which was involved in developing the drug in its early stages, markets it in Japan. In the half-year ending in September, Ono said it recorded ¥53.3 billion ($468 million) in Opdivo sales.
An Ono spokesman said the company accepted the Japanese government’s decision to reduce the price of Opdivo. “We see the importance of maintaining the public health insurance system for the whole nation,” the spokesman said.


The author of this letter is exactly right, and the pricing/cost deceptions of the multinational drug manufacturing cartel and the alleged regulatory agencies are nothing new. Below are the findings of an investigation re: Who pays for drug research? that was conducted more than ten years ago.

Drug company claim: “Imports/price controls will limit R&D dollars”

FACT – Not at all likely! In reality, of each dollar received by the pharmaceutical industry, approximately 37 percent is spent on administration and marketing – which is almost three times the amount allocated to research and development.

FACT - The US public funds most drug research and development. A substantial amount of (the drug industry’s) profit comes from new drugs discovered and formulated through public foundations and universities that then license the drugs to a pharmaceutical company for a small fraction of the company’s ultimate profits.

FACT - It has been estimated that up to 85 percent of (the drug industry’s) research and development funding comes from the National Institutes of Health (NIH), private foundations, academia, and public tax credits. (One {US income} tax credit alone allows a 50 cent {50%} tax credit {refund} for each dollar spent by a pharmaceutical company on R&D.) This gives the pharmaceutical industry the lowest effective tax bracket of any industry – about half that of other corporations and half that of the average US family.

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