What consumer items in the US are priced at such a massive differential to Europe and elsewhere besides medications? Lobbying pays nicely it would appear. This is not just a problem for those with asthma or other illnesses requiring increasingly costly drugs. This is a problem for every patient, every insured, every taxpayer, and every employer who pays for insurance. This is of course due to the risk sharing inherent in any insurance system, where the healthier pay for the sicker. This means higher premiums, copays, deductibles, lower business profits, and lower pay due to business costs being shifted to higher benefits.
It is also a problem for caring physicians who are faced with the dilemma of helping their patients who may have to pay all or some medication costs out of pocket due to no, or limited, insurance coverage.
We are currently in a government shut-down, in part due to a small number of politicians who want to preserve this status quo – or at least it appears they do. The rhetoric attacks reform and change. The corollary of these attacks is that we leave things largely alone, including these windfall abuses of regulation.
In the free market that most believe in theoretically, safe drugs like those sold in Europe would be available in the US, unimpeded by protective and restrictive regulations that protect certain companies and products from competition. We currently have a system that is a far cry from free, rational, or equitable.
Innovation is not always comfortable. Change when it takes place will be disruptive, and it will be resisted. But it is necessary.
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