Mr. Bandow makes a straight-forward and very rational argument when he points out the unfairness of the city of Washington, D.C. trying to fix prices on pharmaceuticals.
But his article ignores the other side of the issue: How much profit is enough for companies whose monopolistic position has been enhanced by public funding?
By monopolistic, I mean that the average consumer does not have the option of “shopping around” for a better price for drugs. Alternate drugs are not freely available in the market place. Drug makers limit the ability of their competitors to compete with their products by the use of intellectual property rights. That’s what patenting is all about. But for the consumer, the situation is more akin to the need for electricity or natural gas, if there is only one supplier in the area where you live, you are at the mercy of that one company. That is why public utilities were created. When it comes to drugs, the consumer is sometimes forced to face the choice of paying up or dying. And while that may be a valid theoretical outcome of market economics, I’m not sure that the American people, a Christian nation of great compassion, are ready to allow people to suffer and die for lack of money.
And as far as public funding goes, it is my understanding that a large percentage of the research carried out by Big Pharma begins in academia, where research grants and government aid to students and professors alike are supported by tax dollars. If fact, academic research is a great tool for the drug makers because when the publicly funded research is successful, it shows the drug makers where to start the private research, and when an academic program comes up a bust, it eliminates dead ends that would be a waste of the corporate money. And then our system of intellectual property secures the profit making ability of a company for what can amount to decades.
So the issue is not as simplistic as the article would seem to indicate. The real problem, it would seem to me, is that people are uncomfortable with the large profits made by Big Pharma. Correct me if I’m wrong, but unlike industries like steel or automobile makers, I don’t remember any Big Pharma companies going bankrupt in recent years. To the contrary, year after year the drug makers are consistently some of the most profitable companies around.p>So, does the government, which on one hand represents the consumers who have no choice and at the same time at least partially funds the profit making producers while providing competitive restrictions in the form of patents, have any right to regulate Big Pharma? br> — Robert Casselberry /p>
A man of faith in a godless age is hitting Americans where it hurts.
Mr. and Mrs. American Spectator Reader, let P.J. O’Rourke talk sense to your kids.
In Britain, defending your property can get you life.
The debacle of this president’s administration is both a cause and a symptom of the decline of American values. Unless Congress impeaches him, that decline will go on unchecked. An eminent jurist surveys the damage and assesses the chances for the recovery of our culture.
It won’t take long for conservatives to scratch this presidential wannabe off their 2008 scorecard.
The American Christmas, like the songs that celebrate it, makes room for everybody under the rainbow. Is that why so many people seem to be hostile to it?
Was the President done in by the economy, or by the politics of the economy?