Price Controls Limit Drugs

Although it may be appropriate to criticize the revolving-door ethics involved when a former congressman becomes an advocate for an industry with which he had legislative dealings, the issue of government-controlled drug pricing is not a fair target (“Switch raises issues of loyalty,” Opinion, Jan. 3). This part of the Medicare drug bill is there for good reason, as witness the current precarious state of our vaccine supply. The main reason why we have suffered through shortages of several children’s vaccines, and the recent flu vaccine near-disaster, is the fact that vaccine prices are artificially lowered by the purchasing power of the Centers for Disease Control. Their low prices (and thus returns on investment) has forced all but two flu vaccine makers out of the business in the United States. If the feds were allowed to use their mammoth purchasing power as leverage to dramatically lower drug prices, the resultant de facto price controls would have the same effect on new drug development in America as it has had on vaccines.

Price controls have effectively killed off the industry in Europe. Let’s not have the same thing happen here.

Gilbert Ross, M.D.

Editor’s note: The writer is executive and medical director of the American Council on Science and Health.

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