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04/04/2017    David Secord, DPM

The High Cost of Drugs and Patient Adherence (Elliot Udell, DPM)

I thought I'd weigh in on the topic raised by Dr.
Udell.

From The $800 Million Dollar Pill:

Why do life-saving prescription drugs cost so
much? Drug companies insist that prices reflect
the millions they invest in research and
development. In this gripping exposé, Merrill
Goozner contends that American taxpayers are in
fact footing the bill twice: once by supporting
government-funded research and again by paying
astronomically high prices for prescription
drugs. Goozner demonstrates that almost all the
important new drugs of the past quarter-century
actually originated from research at taxpayer-
funded universities and at the National
Institutes of Health. He reports that once the
innovative work is over, the pharmaceutical
industry often steps in to reap the profit.

Goozner shows how drug innovation is driven by
dedicated scientist’s intent on finding cures for
diseases, not by pharmaceutical firms whose
bottom line often takes precedence over the
advance of medicine. A university biochemist who
spent twenty years searching for a single blood
protein that later became the best-selling
biotech drug in the world, a government employee
who discovered the causes for dozens of crippling
genetic disorders, and the Department of Energy-
funded research that made the Human Genome
Project possible--these engrossing accounts
illustrate how medical breakthroughs actually
take place.

The $800 Million Pill suggests ways that the
government's role in testing new medicines could
be expanded to eliminate the private sector waste
driving up the cost of existing drugs.
Pharmaceutical firms should be compelled to
refocus their human and financial resources on
true medical innovation, Goozner insists. This
book is essential reading for everyone concerned
about the politically charged topics of drug
pricing, Medicare coverage, national health care,
and the role of pharmaceutical companies in
developing countries.


Also covered in this tome is the role that tort
attorneys play. I like to look at the role of
Vioxx, how it was nearly a wonder drug in my
practice and how a $4.85 billion dollar
settlement brought Merck to near bankruptcy and
stymies’ future investment by United States
pharmaceutical firms.

So, although there may certainly be some
Corporate greed involved, we have been
subsidizing the price of drugs for the rest of
the world because of our relative standard of
living and lack of legislative limits on
pharmaceutical prices for many decades.

David Secord, DPM, Corpus Christi, TX

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