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By: s.i. wells

The time has finally arrived when a solution must be found to bring down the high price of prescription drugs.  As the economy sours and people begin to choose between buying food or buying medications, it is time to fix this problem for the benefit of all.  The battle between Big Pharma and Congress has been won for decades by the pharmaceutical companies and their lobbyists.  The result - the American public has had to pay ever-increasing prices for prescription drugs.

So here’s an idea:  Extend the life of patent protection on FDA approved medications for an additional seventeen years and require drug companies to amortize their costs over the entire span of the patent so that the price of these medications to the public is reduced by up to sixty percent. 

Current patents for pharmaceuticals run for as long as 20 years depending on the circumstances.  The cost to discover, develop, test and secure FDA approval runs into the hundreds of millions of dollars or more for each successful drug.  Clearly we as a nation must continue to encourage the discovery of new drugs in order to further improve the delivery of health care.  But just as clearly we must no longer bear the brunt of brutally high prices.

The key to this plan is both to create incentives for the pharmaceutical companies to spend their funds on research and development and to regulate how the price savings via an extended patent life is passed onto the public.  I am for a vehicle that stimulates profit growth for the pharmaceutical companies so long as the prices to the public are slashed dramatically.  A formula to make this happen can be created and accounting rules can be adapted to fit the desired end.  The losers, however, will be the generic drug manufacturers who will no doubt cry foul.  To which I say, the current system has failed each of us and we must act for our collective greater self-interest – not a special interest.

Bottom line:  Let’s get smart and do something significant right now.  Let’s stop trying to beat Big Pharma with a stick and let’s find some carrots that will produce the desired and necessary benefits to the public.  I have no particular affection for Big Pharma, but I see a serious social problem that can be alleviated with some straightforward legislative policy changes.  Let’s create profit incentives to stimulate discovery and regulations that produce a discounted pricing structure in order to help everyone who takes prescription drugs.  We should not have to live in a country where people have to choose between buying food or buying medications.

All opinions expressed by s.i. wells are solely his own and do not reflect the opinions of Stay Thirsty Media, Inc.

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