Join CFIF Corporate Counsel and Senior Vice President Renee Giachino today from 4:00 p.m. CDT to 6:00…
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This Week's "Your Turn" Radio Show Lineup

Join CFIF Corporate Counsel and Senior Vice President Renee Giachino today from 4:00 p.m. CDT to 6:00 p.m. CDT (that’s 5:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. EDT) on Northwest Florida’s 1330 AM WEBY, as she hosts her radio show, “Your Turn: Meeting Nonsense with Commonsense.” Today’s guest lineup includes:

4:00 CDT/5:00 pm ET: Hans von Spakovsky, Manager, Election Law Reform Initiative and Senior Legal Fellow, Meese Center for Legal and Judicial Studies at The Heritage Foundation: On Sessions' Watch;

4:15 CDT/5:15 pm ET: Lee Casey, Partner at Baker & Hostetler: Detractors Denouncing Constitution;

4:30 CDT/5:30 pm ET: Trey Kovacs, Policy Analyst at the Competitive Enterprise Institute: Veterans Department Ends Labor Union Work on Taxpayer Dime;

4:45 CDT/5:45 pm ET: Tzvi Khan, Senior Iran Analyst…[more]

November 12, 2018 • 04:24 pm

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On Pharmaceuticals, HHS Contemplates Disastrous New Price Controls Print
By Timothy H. Lee
Thursday, November 01 2018
Government price controls undermine intellectual property rights, stifle innovation and ultimately punish consumers in the form of fewer innovative pharmaceuticals.

When you think of government price controls, what images immediately come to mind? 

For Americans of Generation X or older, it might be depressingly long lines of cars snaking down public streets attempting to buy gas during the 1970s. 

For others, it might be contemporary Venezuelan grocery store shelves, emptied of even such basic staples as toilet paper. 

Whatever images come to mind, the simple, inescapable fact is that price controls never work.  The ironclad economic laws of supply and demand render price controls unworkable in the past, unworkable in the present and unworkable in the future. 

Which makes it all the more perplexing that the Trump Administration, which for nearly two years has cultivated a stellar economy by applying the laws of economics more masterfully after years of Obama Administration malaise, now contemplates imposing artificial price controls on pharmaceuticals. 

America enjoys  by far  the most innovative and beneficial pharmaceutical industry in the world, accounting for approximately two-thirds of all new lifesaving and life-improving drugs brought to market across the globe.  The price control regime contemplated by the Trump Administration, however, would jeopardize the industry, and must be reconsidered before catastrophic and irreversible damage is inflicted. 

To be sure, healthcare costs remain a legitimate concern, and it's understandable that the Trump Administration seeks to address the issue.  Its proposal, however, would make matters worse, not better. 

Here's what the administration has proposed, and why it's so dangerous. 

Last week, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) proposed a "foreign reference" drug price regime for pharmaceuticals covered by the federal government's Medicare Part B program.  Simply stated, that means that Medicare would artificially impose a new pricing system based upon an "international pricing index" reflecting what other nations pay for drugs developed in America. 

In other words, foreign nations' price controls would be imported to America, rather than exporting our more effective free market policies to their shores.  Since many of those nations impose single-payer socialized healthcare systems, this constitutes a backdoor method of bringing socialized medicine to the U.S. 

Although some may find superficial allure in importing other nations' price controls to America, understanding the consequences should disabuse them of the merits of that policy. 

Namely, the reason that many other nations pay less for pharmaceuticals is that their socialized healthcare systems threaten to ignore drug patents and simply sell generic copies if drug makers refuse to comply.  That amounts to a form of extortion, and a Trump Administration that has generally demonstrated welcome respect for intellectual property rights should find it particularly offensive. 

Moreover, those nations' price controls prove dangerously penny-wise but pound-foolish in the form of diminished access to new drugs. 

As noted by a Wall Street Journal analysis, American consumers enjoyed access to 70 of 74 new cancer drugs developed between 2011 and 2018, or 95%.   In contrast, only 74% of U.K. patients, 49% of Japanese patients and just 8% of Greek patients could access those new drugs.  Whereas American patients can typically obtain new drugs immediately upon approval, other industrialized nations impose months or even years of delay as a consequence of their policies. 

Thus, other nations whose systems we're preparing to import simply delay the arrival of new drugs or deny them entirely.  "Better quality care in the U.S.," the Journal summarizes, "is why America outpaces 10 European countries on cancer survival rates." 

Although many Americans are distressed by the prices of some drugs, the fact is that a very small percentage of potential new drugs ever make it to market after enormous R & D costs, exhausting safety trials, effectiveness tests, bureaucratic hurdles, foreshortened patent protections and a punitive product liability environment.  So by imposing artificial price controls, governments make it more difficult to develop and commercialize new medicines, which in turn harms consumers in the form of fewer new drugs to extend and improve life. 

Even the World Health Organization (WHO) acknowledged that unwelcome effect in its recent analysis of price controls' effect on pharmaceutical development: 

Every time one country demands a lower price, it leads to a lower price reference used by other countries.  Such price controls, combined with the threat of market lockout or intellectual property infringement, prevent drug companies from charging market rates for their products, while delaying the availability of new cures to patients living in countries implementing those policies. 

So there you have it. 

Government price controls undermine intellectual property rights, stifle innovation and ultimately punish consumers in the form of fewer innovative pharmaceuticals. 

The Trump Administration has generally demonstrated mastery of fundamental economic principles and market stewardship to date.  Let's hope that it quickly comes to its senses and applies that same wisdom in this critical sphere of American life. 

Question of the Week   
Which one of the following individuals has NOT been Speaker of the House of Representatives?
More Questions
Quote of the Day   
 
"Reporting the news is difficult and expensive. Grandstanding is more fun and everyone has an opinion. That's why reporters were once taught, often by a stern taskmaster, to leave opining to the columnists and the editorial page, and save their opinions for after work in the bar across the street. This particular affliction -- grandstanding rather than reporting, advocacy rather than observing and…[more]
 
 
—The Editors, The Washington Times
— The Editors, The Washington Times
 
Liberty Poll   

How confident are you that your state's election supervisors make all reasonable efforts to count every legitimate vote and reject every illegitimate vote?