Wonder why you're experiencing such bug-eyed sticker shock at the pickup counter at your local pharmacy? The New England Journal of Medicine reports that drug expenditures are the fastest-growing part of soaring health costs and that we'll soon be spending more on drugs than for doctors' services. "Over the past few years," the journal notes, "the pharmaceutical industry as a whole has been by far the most profitable industry in the United States." Big Drugs enjoy "extraordinary government protections and subsidies," and much of the early basic research that results in development is funded by the National Institutes of Health, not by the drug companies.
Why don't doctors prescribe less-expensive generic drugs more readily? The reason has nothing to do with kickbacks from the drug companies. I suspect there's malpractice issues at work. It's in doctors' interests to prescribe the best ones.
How valid are drug company claims that they need enormous profits to pay for research and development? It doesn't matter whether it's valid or not. People are free to buy the drugs or not. Drug companies should be free to profit in whatever way they can. More power to them. You can't limit the ability of people to reap what they sow.
Should the government (i.e. taxpayers) help the poor and working poor with drug costs? It might be a good idea for the government to create a fund that the working poor can use as a safety net.
Why don't doctors prescribe less-expensive generic drugs more often? Actually, my doctors do. As a nurse, I can tell you that there's nothing wrong with generics. Some of the drugs I take for heart problems are too new to have generic counterparts, though.
What about drug company claims that they need enormous profits to pay for research and development? I suppose it's partially true, but drug company stocks are doing quite well, aren't they? The gouge is on. Absolutely.
What about the fact that some insurance companies cover Viagra, but not birth control? It's ridiculous. Which is the more important -- both in the long run and short run? I have nothing against Viagra, mind you, but why on earth that and not birth control?
Green Mountain Falls
Domestic violence counselor
How valid are drug company claims that they need enormous profits to pay for research and development? It's phony. The federal government pays for most of the drug research and the drug companies reel in the profits.
Should there be a cap, based on some kind of formula, as to what drug companies should be able to charge? There needs to be some serious study into this possibility. Drug companies are like the oil companies. They charge whatever they feel they can get away with at the moment.
What about the fact that some insurance companies cover Viagra, but not birth control? It's unfair and stupid. Nobody to my knowledge has ever accused insurance companies of making intelligence their top priority.
-- Bob Campbell
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