Making Medicine Affordable Is Simple

Dr. Tom Coburn, a retired GOP U.S. Senator, understands how to make medicine affordable. So why don’t Republicans promote this approach? Because they either don’t know how to or because they receive too many contributions from pharmaceutical companies and thus have no motivation to learn. Here is Dr. Coburn:

Many of the recommendations offered by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine aim at increasing competition by regulating pharmaceutical companies even more in order to decrease drug prices. But a more effective way to lower drug prices is to change the system so it actually reflects free market principles.

The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine recently released a sweeping report, “Making Medicines Affordable: A National Imperative,” adding a new perspective to our national conversation about drug prices. Unfortunately, the recommendations made by this report fail to solve the drug pricing problem because they do not go far enough in addressing the lack of transparency and competition in the biopharmaceutical space.

In my mind, the solution is simple: Reintroduce true markets to pharmaceuticals, and many of the pricing and access problems will diminish significantly. This will not require any difficult maneuvering. We simply need to allow market forces to work as they do in the rest of our economy.

Imagine how quickly the middlemen would be eliminated if we had true price discovery, where you could open your phone and find the best price for your prescriptions online. There would be price competition for your business as well as a service parameter to your decision making. Pharmacies would have to compete for your business like everyone else, and prices for all prescriptions would decline.

Many of the recommendations offered in the report aim at increasing competition, but they do so by attempting to increase government regulation of the economy, which we must be careful to avoid. Yes, market forces are imperfect. But in the long run, they are better than any government market manipulation at bringing forth further innovation and lowering overall prices.

Read more: Manhattan Institute

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