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October 24, 2005

Why Must Dean Baker Continue To Pester Us With His Crazy Schemes?

Once again, Dean Baker complains that the current patent system isn't optimal just because it makes prescription drugs far more expensive and perhaps less effective than they could be. What's worse, he even has an idea for how to make the world "better":

The country is projected to spend $224 billion on prescription drugs in 2005. If these drugs were sold in a competitive market, the price would fall by about 70 percent, implying savings of close to $150 billion at 2005 spending levels. This means that we pay approximately $10 in higher drug prices for every dollar in research on breakthrough drugs supported by drug patents. In addition, patent monopolies provide incentives for aggressive marketing campaigns and even kickbacks to doctors for prescribing drugs. They also provide incentives to conceal negative research findings and to publish misleading research findings. And, patents require large amounts of secrecy, which slows research progress.

My favored alternative is direct public funding of approximately $30 billion a year, as would be provided under the Free Market Drug Act (FMDA) introduced by Dennis Kucinch in the last session of Congress. This would effectively double government funding for biomedical research, since it already is spending approximately $30 billion a year through the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

The basic plan is to create 10 competing government sponsored corporations (each getting roughly $3 billion a year) charged with researching and developing new drugs, through the FDA approval process. All new patents are placed in the public domain so that new drugs can be sold as generics...

Next thing you know, Baker will be saying we could develop something called "anesthesia" for operations. I like the scrap of hardened bark I bite down on whenever I have a limb amputated just fine, THANK YOU VERY MUCH.

Posted at October 24, 2005 11:33 AM | TrackBack

It pisses me off that the drug companies have gotten away with claiming that the higher prices are so that they can do research. The vast majority of genuinely new, useful drugs are discovered at universities, not drug companies. A lot of drug company "research" money is spent in making tiny modifications to existing drugs to create just-different-enough-to-be-patent-protected drugs that do nothing new. And then the rest of the cash is spent on advertising and marketing. The drug companies have simply figured out the most efficient way to work the existing system. This doesn't make them evil, any more than effective use of racism and homophobia to win elections makes Karl Rove evil. It's just the free market at work, baby. Or maybe the not-so-free market.

Posted by: Ted at October 24, 2005 12:39 PM

Obviously this Baker guy doesn't understand the pleasure of paying $20 for a migraine pill that actually works. My mom, who uses the pills, says it feels good to support that drug company. It's just like when she goes to the health food store and pays more for organic strawberries. She knows she is supporting something good and worthy. It is unfortunate that Mr. Baker can not appreciate the similarity between an organic strawberry field and the great fermentation vats of engineered cells in the Genentech factory. Perhaps he needs to spend more time inhaling the fumes of each so he can appreciate their similarity. I did that and I am a changed subterranean mammal.

Posted by: hedgehog at October 24, 2005 09:07 PM

Wait...does this mean no more free Vioxx pens? What am I supposed to write with now?

Posted by: cp at October 25, 2005 09:21 AM