by Timothy Droke
October 22, 2004
First she cites the enormous figure of 35.9 billion dollars the big TEN drug companies made in 2002. A lot of money to be sure. However the cost to develop one drug from the very basic research to your medicine cabinet is on average 1.7 billion dollars! So the drug companies made enough money in profit to bring 21 new drugs to market. This doesn't even take into account all the failures that we never hear about.
Only 21% of all drugs ever make it to what's known as Phase 1 human trials. The US spends on average $26 billion a year now on research and development while the total R&D by European nations and Canada is $21 billion total!
Experts expect the US to spend double what all of Europe does on R&D by 2012. This year the United States will out pace Europe and Canada at a healthy 2-1 in new drugs brought to market.
When it comes to importing from Canada, there is already at this time a problem with what is known as "gray" market drugs. They are usually lower quality (when it can be verified) and if we stop buying our drugs from American sources and start sending our money to Canada the drug companies will have no choice but to raise the price on drugs that they sell to Canada. It is a simple fact, we need the money to stay on top of the R&D world.
In countries that invest heavily in R&D there are significant developments in beating certain ailments. For instance, the German rate of mortality from cardiac arrest has declined 8% in the last ten years while here in the US is it has gone down 13% (even as we have gotten larger). The German rate of mortality from breast cancer has declined 9% while in the US 19%! That is a significant difference. When it comes to Statins only 44% of Germans receive them while in the US 75% of patients who can benefit from these drugs get them.
The moral of the story is that while we do pay a lot we also benefit the most and have the best health care available on the planet. I agree we need to do something but buying from other countries will only end up with the drug companies raising costs for those countries so we can keep up with research and development here in the US.
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