Tags: drug | costs | economy | killing

Rising Drug Costs Are Killing Us and Our Economy, Too

Rising Drug Costs Are Killing Us and Our Economy, Too
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Wednesday, 27 January 2016 07:30 AM Current | Bio | Archive


Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders have been attacking each other’s health care plans. In fact, they’re both wrong. So are the Republicans who think free enterprise is the solution.
Free enterprise might work - but we’ll never know because we don’t have free enterprise.

We have crony capitalism, which is something else completely.

Anyway, arguing over who will pay for health care misses the deeper problem. What are we paying for, and does its price match the benefit it delivers?

The prime reason ObamaCare isn’t working is that it did nothing to reduce bloated health care costs, of which prescription drugs are the most bloated of all.

Worse, the drugs often fail to cure us. Sometimes they make us even sicker.

Consider how drug approval works in our country.

Scientists produce a substance they think will relieve a particular illness. They then test it in double-blind placebo trials. Half the patients get the real drug and half get an inert placebo. The patients don’t know which they receive. They are then tested to see if their condition improves.

Typical findings might show that 20 percent of the placebo-treated patients get better while 30 percent of those receiving the experimental drug show improvement.

What does this mean?

Well, in drug lingo it means that the new drug is “50 percent more effective than placebo.”

Armed with this finding, the drug company then urges physicians to prescribe the drug to 100 percent of patients who have the condition - even though their own trials show it probably won’t help.

That’s right. A trial can show 70 percent of patients did not respond to either placebo or drug, yet our government’s bureaucracy will deem the drug “effective.”

If a drug doesn’t help a majority of people who take it, then a majority of people who take it are wasting their money. They might be risking their health, too. And we wonder why we have a health care crisis?

No one knows if a drug will help any particular patient, of course. You have to try it and find out. This brings two other problems.

First, all drugs have side effects. Sometimes they’re serious or even deadly. Does the small chance the drug will help you offset the risks? Ask your doctor. Don’t forget the drug company may well have bought your doctor’s lunch that day.

Second, many drugs are shockingly expensive, thanks to a regulatory framework designed by politicians and drug industry lobbyists. You can often buy the very same drugs overseas for much lower prices, but bringing them back into the U.S. is illegal.

Admittedly, solving the big-picture problem is tough. We can, however, control our own drug costs just by asking our doctors the right questions. What are the odds this drug will help me? Should I try less expensive alternatives? What side effects are likely?

If every American did this, our collective medical costs would drop dramatically, sick people would get better treatment, and politicians wouldn’t have to redesign the economy around our health care needs.

Will it happen that way? Probably not. But it’s still a nice dream.

Patrick Watson is an Austin-based financial writer. Follow him on Twitter @PatrickW

To read more of his insights, CLICK HERE NOW.

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Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders have been attacking each other's health care plans. In fact, they're both wrong. So are the Republicans who think free enterprise is the solution.
drug, costs, economy, killing
540
2016-30-27
Wednesday, 27 January 2016 07:30 AM
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