Lack of price controls to blame for higher drug costs in US

In today’s Chicago Tribune “Lack of price controls to blame for higher drug costs in US”, a reader asks a very good question – why are HIV/AIDs patients in Africa only paying 40 cents a day for a pill?

Bruce Japsen for the Tribune replied that it was partly because of the lack of price controls and because the US is “essentially” subsidizing the rest of the world. While Mr Japsen’s analysis is essentially correct, what message does this tell the public?

The perception of pharmaceuticals is poor and what goes into the price of drugs a mystery to most people. However, 40 cents per day versus AIDs drug cost between “$1,000 and $2,000 a month for patients in the U.S” is a reality hard for most people to swallow.

Now, we have all experienced differential pricing and, in our daily lives, it’s for the most part accepted — for example, lower priced kids’ meals, senior discounts, and military personnel boarding planes first. But, differential pricing to benefit another country  (i.e. essentially paying more so another person can take the drug for free or almost free)?

Drug companies clearly need to do a better job in explaining drug pricing; otherwise, they will end up on the losing end of a public debate and indeed face price controls.

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