Just As I Thought

Take your medicine, drug companies

The House has passed legislation allowing Americans to buy prescription drugs internationally. I’m not entirely sure how truly useful this will be if it’s signed into law; the drug industry is right up there with tobacco in it’s ethical behavior. Let’s take a look at what is what:

If the bill becomes law — and the Senate may insist on changes — many older Americans in particular could save hundreds to thousands of dollars annually, studies suggest.

I think this is probably unlikely. Most seniors can’t figure out how to use a VCR or a cell phone; they have little chance of figuring out how to order pharmaceuticals from another country. They’re more likely to continue going to their neighborhood pharmacist.

Opponents said such reimported medicines might be unsafe, and the practice would deprive drug companies of profits they devote in part to developing new drugs.

“In part” is operative phrase here. Drug companies spend far, far more on their marketing than on research and development. And I haven’t seen many real cures come down the pike lately – just pills for heartburn, allergies, and impotence.

Canada and other countries impose strict price controls. Pharmaceutical companies’ acceptance of those controls, consumer activists say, proves they can make reasonable profits with lower retail prices. The companies, however, say they could not conduct vital research and development if all their products were sold at Canadian prices.

Again, perhaps if they backed off the non-stop barrage of ads, they’d have more cash. But this argument rings hollow – drug companies are the highest profit enterprises in this county. With their huge piles of cash, these companies aren’t plowing it into R&D – it goes to advertising and lobbying Congress and the White House.

The House voted to allow the reimportation of drugs certified by the FDA and manufactured in FDA-certified plants only. The FDA would be required within six months to design and implement a program to allow consumers, pharmacists and drug wholesalers to import certain prescription drugs from licensed facilities in several industrialized nations, including Israel, members of the European Union and Canada.

Ah, there’s the loophole for the big money drug companies. All they need do at this point is move one step of the manufacturing process to a non-certified plant. The drugs themselves can be manufactured in a certified plant, but if the bottle or some other element of the package is produced in a non-certification plant, the deal’s off. So, by packing drugs differently for international sale, they’ve closed the door on Americans.
This idea is well-meaning, and may work for a few; but nothing will change until the Federal government does the “socialist” tainted thing and institutes some price controls on prescription drugs.

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