Sep 7, 2017 - Health
Expert Voices

Drugs don't work if people can't afford them

From our Expert Voices conversation on drug pricing.

American citizens help fund the basic science behind most drugs, and then we give corporations monopoly power to set the prices at whatever the market will bear. 50-60% of all new drugs are based on research funded by U.S. taxpayers and currently, we pay twice as much for most drugs as people in other wealthy nations.

Drug companies have a responsibility to:

  • Acknowledge taxpayers' investment and explain how the price of a drug reflects that investment.
  • Publicly commit that when a drug is approved in other countries, U.S. taxpayers will not be charged more than citizens of other wealthy nations given America's unique investment into the science driving drug discoveries.
  • Explain how the price of an orphan drug for treating rare diseases will decline as the number of patients receiving the drug expands.

The bottom line: Novartis's new CAR-T drug, Kymriah, is an incredibly important one. But American taxpayers invested over $200 million in CAR-T's discovery. Based on several different data points, we believe the price for Kymriah is about $125,000-150,000 too high. That's disappointing. Drugs don't work if people can't afford them.

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