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LA Daily News

Policymakers must resist price controls on pharmaceutical drugs

Controlling the costs of pharmaceuticals is an idea kicked around on both sides of the political aisle, and we urge lawmakers in both parties to resist this populist urge.

Over the past few years, concerns about the prices of prescription drugs have risen along with calls for the government to contain prices through aggressive action.

We understand this populist fury, based on fears that people in need are priced out of the market for life-saving medications.

But we should be careful not to paint the entire industry with such a broad brush, as pharmaceutical companies have saved countless lives through many of the greatest advancements in medicine.

As the pharmaceutical industry races to find a COVID-19 vaccine and to respond to our national testing shortage, it’s important to remember that price-control regulations generally hurt industry and overlook the costs to bring drugs to market.

A recent study by Tufts University found that it takes around 10 years to bring a new drug to market and costs around $2.6 billion.

These costs continue to climb with higher failure rates in human tests and higher out-of-pocket clinical costs as research becomes more precise.

Certainly no one is crying over the hardships of Big Pharma. But like many so-called reforms, price controls would simply lead to more problems. Price controls would not be offset with reductions in research and development costs, so drug manufacturers would be less inclined to take risks if it meant losing more money, thereby stifling innovation.

As the world is in desperate need of tests and drugs to fight the COVID-19 crisis, we should be looking to enable the private sector to do what it does best. According to the White House’s Council of Economic Advisors, the United States is responsible for nearly half of the world’s medical research and development.

The private sector has proven time and again to be able to respond quickly in crisis and will be the best option for developing the testing we need to re-open our economy, to absorb the lengthy process of trials and failures before finding a vaccine that works and to manufacture and distribute products rapidly across the globe.

Controlling the costs of pharmaceuticals is an idea kicked around on both sides of the political aisle, and we urge lawmakers in both parties to resist this populist urge.