The Democratic Left has come up with a new wealth redistribution scheme that will penalize American creativity. Bernie Sanders and the far Left of the Democratic Party want the ability to freely import pharmaceuticals from around the world and give to generic manufacturers the right to manufacture prescription drugs still under patent.
In treating more illnesses, American pharmaceutical companies have produced some of the best research in the world. In so doing they have extended the quality of life for many Americans. In many respects a new drug under consideration is like starting a new business. The risk of failure is high and if it succeeds, it will save people’s lives and/or improve the quality of their life. On the other hand, if it fails, investment money is lost.
One thing that most people may not be aware of is that most American drug manufacturers fully understand that some of their medicines are overly expensive to the consumer. Many offer programs to help people with low incomes and individuals on fixed incomes who usually cannot afford the drugs the ability to get these drugs. The companies provide a way to receive the drugs for little or no cost. Recently, a drug manufacturer who came up with a cure for hepatitis C gave the rights to generic drug manufacturers to produce the cure in 120 nations around the world. This was with little or no cost to the patient and no profit to the developing company.
The FDA has become more stringent in the approval process, and in some categories, the approval rate by the FDA is less than 5%. In recent years this percentage has declined as the FDA demands more proof of the experimental drug’s effectiveness and risks. This means that 95% of the time, other drugs in those categories are under development and all of the money spent on trials and research is lost.
Let’s try an example; you own a pharmaceutical company and you have ten potential new drugs, but maybe only one makes it through the approval process and gets approved, even though the others may also cure diseases. Now Bernie Sanders and the Left want you to turn over the formula for your one successful drug so that generic manufacturers throughout the world can copy your product and sell it in the marketplace for far less than your approved drug.
There is no doubt that the cost of producing pharmaceuticals is expensive. The high development costs are primarily driven by the failure of those other drugs who do not come to the market. Americans who are buying drugs from Mexico, Canada, and China may think they are getting the generic equivalent at an inexpensive price. At the border crossings in Mexico, one can find many pharmacies claiming to dispense branded drugs or generic equivalents for considerably less money than paid in the United States. In many cases, according to the FDA many of the border pharmacists are not licensed in the art of pharmacology, and even though the drug is bought in Mexico, one has no idea if the drugs were manufactured in Mexico or some other part of the world and shipped to Mexico to be sold to American buyers. Mexican pharmaceutical companies openly admit they prefer generic drugs rather than spending the research and development costs and experiencing the high failure rates in developing new drugs.
The liberal Left sees their proposed regulations as a redistribution of wealth. They want to drive down the price of drugs and the profits to the drug manufacturer, and in so doing, lowering the price to the consumer. My question is how long will the pharmaceutical companies want to continue taking risks in developing new medical solutions? Especially knowing that what they have built will be taken away by a government whim?
If we penalize any company for thinking of and finding solutions that help people improve the quality of their lives, or for that matter saving lives, as in our HCV example, then I believe that innovation will come to a screeching halt. The idea that wealth distribution is viable for a free, capitalist society makes no sense. What is clear to me is that people that come up with wealth redistribution ides do not understand that no matter how hard a government tries to create a communist environment, redistribution has never succeeded. I believe that what the Left wants to do today will never succeed.
I believe that it is in the nature of man to try and improve himself, and in many cases, do something that improves the lives of others. If man is successful in this, then he did build it and no one or no government can take it away.