Tuesday, September 6, 2016

"Clinton For President" Campaign Offers Concrete Proposal -- On Drug Pricing Excesses

I've held this item from last Friday, so that it wouldn't get lost in the "news hole" created by a long holiday weekend, here in the US.

In sum, I think the Clinton campaign is reacting sensibly to the occasional miscreants that roam the pharmaceutical landscape. [Think here of Mylan, and the thankfully no longer influential Martin Shkreli.] As currently envisioned, the oversight agency would have jurisdiction over mature brands -- that is, drugs that have been on market for quite a number of years -- and would presumably take aim at the common practice of spiking the price of a soon-to-be generic medication in the last year or so, before the availability of the usually much cheaper unbranded version. Some progressives say that the measure doesn't go far enough. My estimation is that we need to maintain strong incentives to develop new medicines, and pricing power is the central motivator there. [Editorial legal side note: It is highly likely she could do this by executive action, the way both Nixon and Johnson used wage and price restrictions to control inflation in the late 1960s and early 1970s.]

That said, most drug companies price new products in a responsible fashion -- so it makes little sense to take the sledge-hammer of regulation out and whack all pricing decisions, when a scalpel will do -- to get at the occasional egregious abusers, like those mentioned above. So I support the HRC campaign's proposal. In truth, the industry brought this moment on itself -- and she will be the next President. Trust that.

Here is a bit from The Washington Post, reporting as of Friday -- do go read it all:

. . . .Clinton is rolling out a plan Friday designed to give the federal government more power to push back against what she calls “excessive unjustified costs” for medications that have long been on the market.

In a statement, Clinton said that “all Americans deserve full access to the medications they need,” adding that she is “ready to hold drug companies accountable when they try to put profits ahead of patients, instead of back into research and innovation.”

Clinton plans to create a drug-pricing oversight group that will monitor price increases. If this group of federal officials decides that an increase is excessive, it could take a number of enforcement actions, including making emergency purchases of an alternate version of the drug, allowing emergency imports of a similar product from other developed countries, and imposing penalties on the companies, such as fines. . . .

I find myself unable to control my grinning, this morning, after Mr. Trump indicated that he would have flown his jet right out of China (and boycotted the G20 meeting), had he perceived an insult -- from the Chinese hosts. He is a petulant boy -- not a man at all. Onward, on a luminous but clear dawn -- seeing so many things with fresh eyes this fine Tuesday. . . and smiling right back at the wide, wonderous world ahead. . . .


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