By John E. Calfee
This booklet explains why efforts to manage drug costs via political ability are deeply misconceived and will thwart trendy dramatic advancements in well-being.
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Such difficulties could combine to defeat the goals of advocates of price controls. Research would be curtailed or channeled into lines far less challenging than those that yielded the remarkable advances of the past two decades. Pharmaceuticals for the elderly would become a less lucrative pursuit: investments would shift to more profitable arenas. Prices would remain high, albeit not as high as for truly breakthrough products. Industry profits would be persistently comfortable, as is typical for closely regu52 John E.
Some recent proposals on pharmaceuticals would do the same thing by requiring manufacturers to match discounts given to some buyers, such as Medicaid, when selling to other buyers, such as pharmacies. That requirement would remove the incentive to offer discounts in the first place. By making pricing strategy more easily observed by competitors (because government prices are a matter of public record), the rule would also remove much of the incentive to price aggressively. 129 Nations with pervasive price controls on pharmaceuticals often spend far more of 50 John E.
Calfee lated industries. Health care providers and payers, including Medicare and other government agencies, would be at peace with the pharmaceutical industry because price increases would be moderate and predictable. After all, the providers and payers can make just as much money or balance their budgets just as well by using old inferior drugs as they can by using new superior ones. 135 The greatest harm would be the absence of valuable therapies and treatments that would not be developed because of inadequate incentives or would not be imported because of controls over prices or difficulty in obtaining marketing approval.