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October 19, 2004
Epidemic of Good Sense Spreading, Scientists Say
Thanks to the Red Sox and the Cardinals, I'm pressed for blogging time today. But I wanted to point out an article by Malcolm Gladwell that was just posted at the New Yorker site. Entitled "Don't Blame Big Pharma", it's a look at Marcia Angell's book - with which he's not impressed - and at the drug pricing issue in general. It contains indisputably sensible stuff like the following, regarding the prices of prescription versus generic drugs:
"It is not accurate to say, then, that the United States has higher prescription-drug prices than other countries. It is accurate to say only that the United States has a different pricing system from that of other countries. Americans pay more for drugs when they first come out and less as the drugs get older, while the rest of the world pays less in the beginning and more later. Whose pricing system is cheaper? It depends. . ."
I think Gladwell's key point is this one, and it's well worth thinking about:
"The core problem in bringing drug spending under control, in other words, is persuading the users and buyers and prescribers of drugs to behave rationally, and the reason we’re in the mess we’re in is that, so far, we simply haven’t done a very good job of that."
Of course, that would mean that a good part of my industry's profits might well be made through the suboptimal decisions of its customers - not that we we'd be alone in that category, for sure. But it's not a group I feel comfortable being a member of, and I'd rather we found a way out of it. More thoughts on this to come.
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