President Trump appears willing to turn his back on his "America First" policy when it comes to our nation's leadership in biomedical innovation.
His decision could end up killing countless Americans.
According to the Capitol Hill rumor mill, the Trump administration is preparing an executive order to link the price of prescription medicines to drug prices in other countries. The scheme — which is aimed at lowering costs for taxpayers and patients, but will have a chilling impact on the development and production of new medicines — could be unveiled this week.
While it's true that Canada and many European countries pay less for prescriptions than we do, the price disparity is due to a mix of costly taxpayer-funded subsidies and harmful socialist price controls.
Price controls on drugs lead to shortages that can make it nearly impossible to find crucial medicines. In France, a quarter of patients have been unable to get prescriptions they need because of drug shortages. In 2019, Canada’s government reported 4,400 drug shortages. Critical drugs for treating cancer, seizures and diabetes were not available in much of Canada, the UK and the EU.
The policies can keep some drugs from ever reaching consumers.
Health bureaucrats in many countries refuse to approve or cover certain medicines unless manufacturers offer enormous discounts. If drug makers can’t afford to sell their medicines at the cut-rate prices approved by a country’s health officials, patients are forced to go without.
Of 220 new drugs launched throughout the world from 2011 to 2017, 90% were available in the United States. Just two-thirds of the medications were available in the UK, only half were offered to patients in Canada and France.
Price caps also suck research and development money out of medical science, stifling life-saving innovations.
Pharmaceutical research and development has largely dried up in countries with price caps.
The portion of new medicines originating from the UK, France and Germany has fallen by more than half over the past 40 years. That’s because only one in 10 drugs developed for the market are ultimately approved by government regulators, and the cost of creating one successful drug is nearly $3 billion.
Given the long odds and astronomical research and development costs associated with developing a new drug, pharmaceutical companies rarely earn enough to justify the expense of inventing new medicines in countries with price controls.
As a result, U.S. researchers invent about two in three of the world's new therapies.
The Trump administration’s reported plan to implement the very same socialist price caps on prescription drugs that have failed in every country where they’ve been tried would have the same disastrous results here in America.
There’s no denying that the current system is unfair to the United States. Other countries rip off American scientists, don’t pay their fair share of biopharmaceutical research and development expenses, don’t value life-saving medical innovations, pay less at the pharmacy, and leave American drug companies, patients and taxpayers to shoulder the burden. It’s not right.
But turning to socialist price controls that will lead to drug shortages, keep life-saving medicines from reaching patients, and suffocate funding for innovative new products for generations to come is not the answer. Instead, the Trump administrations should take a page out of the president’s best-seller, "The Art of the Deal," and head to the negotiating table to make the situation more fair and reasonable for Americans.
President Trump should clamp down on countries that take advantage of American pharmaceutical innovations by appointing a special negotiator in the U.S. Trade Representative's office.
If countries like France, Germany, Canada, and the UK don’t start valuing our drugs fairly and picking up the slack when it comes to research and development expenses, the negotiator should threaten every possible tool to hurt the offending countries export.
The rumored executive order pegging drug prices to those paid by patients in other countries would stifle innovation and slash drugs available to Americans, resulting in unnecessary pain, suffering and death. If the president has the best interest of Americans at heart, he should make sure the scheme never sees the light of day.
By truly putting "America First" and clamping down on foreign freeloaders, President Trump could both lower prescription drug prices for American patients and free up more funds for researchers to develop the innovative cures that allow people to live longer, healthier lives.
Drew Johnson is a senior fellow at the National Center for Public Policy Research. Read Drew Johnson's Reports — More Here.
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