Prescription drug revolt -- buy them in Canada?

Discussion in 'Politics, Religion, Social Issues' started by Ugg, Sep 15, 2003.

  1. Ugg macrumors 68000

    Ugg

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    #1
    Link

    There are two issues here:

    1. Washington is only interested in finding a market approach to the problem, not in telling manufacturers to hold down costs.

    2. States rights. I thought the Bushies were interested in returning rights to the states, so why is it that in a case like this the states are denied those rights?
     
  2. 3rdpath macrumors 68000

    3rdpath

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    #2
    everyone i know with a chronic health condition gets his/her drugs from canada. way cheaper. super easy.

    the drug/health industry here seems intent on killing the golden goose. i hope they do. time for a new system with the priority on the consumer and not the greed of the business.

    gecko was wrong...greed isn't good.
     
  3. zimv20 macrumors 601

    zimv20

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    #3
    good for rod. and good for illinois.

    rod's a good guy. when he was in the House, his office was only a block from my house. never met him personally, but his staff was always willing to talk to me about how i felt on issues.
     
  4. Desertrat macrumors newbie

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    #4
    Does anybody here know what foreign drug companies have discovered new drugs, recently, and what are the R&D costs of any of them?

    I read articles or see TV stuff that says a new super-anti-biotic or anti-cancer thingummy can have some $120 million in R&D behind it. Then there is the time period for the FDA to do its approval process. If $120 million has been spent, but there is no return for five or six years, that's another several tens of millions of dollars in interest or opportunity cost of the money.

    Seems to me it's like the deal of using an automated lathe or milling machine to make some widget. The first one costs $10,000--which includes writing the software and setting up the machinery. The next several thousand of them run about ten cents apiece. So, how do you judge the unit pricing?

    And if this stuff from Canada isn't exactly the same as that from, say, Merck, having been reverse-engineered somewhere, then what do you do if it doesn't work as expected?

    And if something goes wrong, who do you sue?

    'Rat
     
  5. zimv20 macrumors 601

    zimv20

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    #5
    there's no denying that the US companies lead the world in terms of sheer number of new drugs and (probably) R&D, but france, in particular, has a strong showing.

    the thing is, those _are_ american-made drugs. in the US, we pay more for drugs sold here than much of the rest of the world pays. that's why the drug companies lobby for laws trying to keep us from crossing into canada to buy them. they're competing against themselves.
     
  6. Desertrat macrumors newbie

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    #6
    Well, Canada is a bit far off for me, but Mexico is real close.

    Arizona is sagging a bit from the weight of the retirees in places like Sun City. The deal there is a tour bus across the border, with lunch, and get all reloaded on the monthly medications.

    Example of price differential: A friend's dog had glaucoma. Same medicine for dogs as for people. Proper dosage, here, cost $90 a month. In Mexico, the same medicine was $24 for three months.

    I keep painkillers and antibiotics in my back-country medicine kit. No prescription needed; low prices. I can afford to toss stuff out and reload every couple or four years.

    'Rat
     
  7. Taft macrumors 65816

    Taft

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    #7
    I think comments should also be made about the practicality of letting market forces drive development of new drugs.

    Do you know how much R&D money is spent every year on drugs like Viagra and its competitors? Or on drugs for helping with hair loss? Not to diminish the emotional and quality of life problems caused by these afflictions, but these problems are hardly life threatening. They are focused on because there are people in this country who are willing to pay for those drugs. There is nothing wrong with that, except for the fact that the R&D money could be used to study more urgent problems like AIDS, cancer, etc. But those types of drugs don't offer the kind of market that Viagra does, so the money flows elsewhere.

    By letting market forces drive development of drugs, distribution of drugs, drug prices, etc., the drug industry doesn't cater to the problems which cause humanity the most grief, but rather it caters to where it can make money. The drug industry is only out to make life saving drugs if it can make money from them. I see that as a problem.

    I see it as a large conflict of interest that things like hospitals, drug research and distribution, etc. are operated by people out to make money. Strict measures should be put in place to make sure quality and focus aren't lost to the idea of making money. Because that isn't what a hospital should be about. They shouldn't exist solely to make money. They should exist to serve people in need and make them better. Same goes with the drug companies.

    If a drug company is only out to make money, they'll cut corners wherever possible. They'll try to sell the least amount of product for as much money as possible. More people are sick? There's a higher demand? Jack up prices! Make more money! If drug companies and hospitals were allowed to revert to pure capitalism, they would act like any other company: in their own self interest.

    This is not in the interest of society. This is why there are so many federal regulations in the medical and drug industries: to force the "companies" and private individuals in this country to provide quality service to those in need, no matter where market forces are driving the product.

    I see the current drug situation as a major failing of the current system. Demand for drugs has been going up and, consequently, drug prices are going up right now. Big time. Something like 15% increase in price per year. WAAAYYYY over the rate of inflation.

    What has changed? Do the drugs cost more to manufacture? Is there a supply shortage or extra cost of production due to a ramp up to meet demand? Not from the info I've read. Instead, its a combination of greed from the side of the drug companies and from the employer's side, where they are willing to pay less of the cost.

    In short, the government is allowing the drug companies to act too much like businesses, and they are taking advantage. IMO, I don't care if drug companies are profitable. They should be well run agencies, but their focus shouldn't be to make money, but rather cure the ills of humanity.

    Its like NASA. The US government pours money into NASA because we as a nation see benefit from space exploration and research. There is no immediate market need for the research done at NASA, but we pay anyway, because it is for the good of humanity. Why doesn't the same hold true with drugs?

    Taft
     
  8. Sun Baked macrumors G5

    Sun Baked

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    #8
    Strange, the state/city govts. are looking at expanding their Canadian drug purchases -- while at the same time they are trying to shut down RxDepot.

    Even the FDA has gotten involved, and is actively trying to stop RxDepot from letting seniors get drugs from Canada.

    Sort of a mixed message...

    :rolleyes:

     
  9. Desertrat macrumors newbie

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    #9
    Taft, you're welcome to your opinion about the moral issues of medicine and profit.

    I've dealt with both public and private hospitals. So far, I haven't seen much difference in efficiency or costs. And, by and large, cleanliness and staff attitudes are comparable.

    Drug companies? I dunno. I'd have to look at profitability, market behavior of their stocks and all that sort of stuff before I made any judgement about "greed". (I do recall the jump in stock price for the company that makes Viagra, when it first announced FDA approval. But isn't Viagra one of the more desirable recreational drugs? :D)

    As far as "desirable" drugs, how about the chemotherapy I start tomorrow? Or the ongoing efforts at oral Insulin and variants on that theme? I have a friend who's been sticking a needle in her leg since around 1980. She commented one time, "All I have to do to die is quit trying to live." She'd love a perfected oral insulin.

    Or the "super" anti-biotics? There's a real need for them, nowadays, and so it's not just greed that's driving that unending research.

    Separately: NASA is the only government effort that's had a serious beneficial impact on the civilian marketplace. It has run about 10:1 in benefits over costs in the early days; far more in spinoffs since then. Physical downsizing of computers was an early necessity; even a "lowly" laptop has an incredibly more powerful capability than the first computers on the Lunar Lander. Then there are such things as the medical use of lasers, Nomex, cryogenics--and the ongoing list is extensive. None of those benefits were foreseen when we started building rockets and capsules. They came from bright folks in the private sector, spinning off in all directions from early and ongoing R&D contracts.

    Separately, ain't it a helluva note that the greatest advances in trauma medicine result from wars?

    'Rat
     
  10. Taft macrumors 65816

    Taft

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    #10
    Viagra grosses Pfizer over 4 billion a year and is one of their more successful drugs. A competing company has since poured R&D money into an alternative and has just released the product to market. They did this because of the overwhelming success of Viagra.

    I'm not saying no research money should be going into things like Viagra, its alternatives or hair loss drugs, I'm just saying our priorities might be a bit off when there are so many uncured illnesses in the world.

    Take cancer. Sure chemo helps it in many cases, but if you are doing it, I'm sure you know what it does to your body. It basically floods your body with "poisons" designed to take out cancer cells, and which happen to take out many healthy cells in the process. Its hardly the ideal cure.

    And I know a lot of research is going into cancer cures, AIDS cures, etc. I just question the effectiveness of Capitalism at curing our society's diseases. They don't have any incentive to cure those diseases unless it makes them money.

    Luckily we have a large (and growing) number of Americans who have been touched by cancer and AIDS and are willing to donate money to organizations which sponser that kind of research. Increasingly, its looking like we may have to turn to independantly funded research to drive this kind of innovation.

    Taft
     
  11. Desertrat macrumors newbie

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    #11
    In the US, AIDS is much less of a problem than cancer. However, more money has been spent by our government on AIDS research in the last ten or fifteen years than on cancer. Most anti-cancer efforts have always been privately funded.

    Priorities? Hey, I stay in "Condition Headshake" at the apparent importance of cosmetics and pet foods. Or fast foods and rock concerts, for that matter...

    :), 'Rat
     
  12. Taft macrumors 65816

    Taft

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    #12
    Good point. I guess my unhappiness with the drug companies is that they are often thought of as our savior against disease, when they are really just a company like any other.

    I'd like to be able to look more toward the government as a leader in R&D cashflows into the "right" areas of research.

    Taft
     
  13. Desertrat macrumors newbie

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    #13
    Thing is, a ton of money aleady goes into your "right" research. What do you think would be government policy on stuff like Viagra or this hair-grow stuff?

    I have more faith in the overall private sector to provide what's needed than I do in government. Why would medical research under government auspices be any better than the way things are done by the Pentagon?

    Whaddaya want? $600 aspirin tablets? :D

    'Rat
     
  14. Ugg thread starter macrumors 68000

    Ugg

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    #14
    I thought there was a huge government push back in the 60s (LBJ?) to conquer cancer and lots of money was thrown at it. Much of that push is responsible for the advances that have been made. Personally, I think too much research has gone into curing cancer and not enough in preventing it. We know so much about what causes cancer but the government has bent over backwards to prevent those cancer causing agents from being banned. It is a disease that mostly results from so called "advances" in society, namely chemicals.

    Also, AIDS research doesn't just benefit those with the disease but also those with any other virus. Viral research got a boost from AIDS and serious advances have also been made in that field.
     
  15. Taft macrumors 65816

    Taft

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    #15
    Not generally from the government. The preponderance of the money goes to social research and studies fueling political agendas.

    Also, the benefit of a governmentally controlled medical research entity is that the products of the research wouldn't be sold for profit. They'd be sold to defray cost. And if we are willing, as a society, to subsidize part of that research cost through taxes, the amount of money required per pill would be far below what the drug companies charge.

    Sure, the research might be more "fatty" in a government lab than in a company lab, but that fat would be cut by a lack of a need for profit margins.

    The only reason I'm advocating this kind of system is that, traditionally, the government has had its nose in services deemed necessary for a society's survival. Things like electricity, water, welfare, etc. are supported/monitored/controlled by the government to provide a security net against market forces. I see drugs as one of those necessary things.

    Of course, many people think the government should get the heck out of the electricity business, too. I guess some people just believe in Capitalism more than I do.

    Taft
     
  16. pseudobrit macrumors 68040

    pseudobrit

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    Then are you opposed to opening up the market (private sector) from government interference so that people in America can get the exact same drugs from the exact same drug companies for cheaper from Canada?

    Are you saying Americans should pay more than anyone else? What is your rationale for defending the drug companies here? This is clearly a handy bit of market manipulation.

    Y'know I've said something before, perhaps here, that bears repeating:

    Don't get so afraid of the government that you trust the corporations.
     
  17. Desertrat macrumors newbie

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    #17
    pseudobrit, for all of my distrust of the efficiency or real goodheartedness of government, I'm not all that trustful of large corporations. (I did spend a year at GM, and saw both good and bad...)

    Corporations at least face competition, and must control costs in order to be profitable. "Produce or get fired" parallels the collegiate "Publish or perish." A government faces no competition and does not need to make a profit--which is why I despise the "cost plus" type of contract.

    One problem anybody in the drug research business faces is that of liability. So many of these new drugs have side effects that can affect some portion of the populace in a negative manner. The old and obvious case is Thalidomide. It's still a wonderful drug, except for women of child-bearing age. So, one cost factor is insurance. Would the government assume liability for some equivalent?

    Right now, the FDA has its approval process. If the government ran the research, would the FDA be subject to bureaucratic pressures? Prestige is as important to a research group as profit is to a corporation--and there's a ton of prestige (and possibly promotions and payraises) for a group finding, e.g., a cancer cure.

    'Rat
     
  18. Ugg thread starter macrumors 68000

    Ugg

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    #18
    Well, at least we know that aspirin would be available, but according to this Science article the drug companies are only interested in chronic diseases and antibiotics are receiving less and less attention. Mainly because antibiotics cure people but cancer and AIDS treatments keep them coming back for more. So, it's great if you have a chronic disease but the next time you get a staph infection may be the last time you ever have to worry about it. :confused:
     
  19. Desertrat macrumors newbie

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    #19
    Ugg, my understanding is that a very large amount of money is being spent on research for new antibiotics. One obvious reason is the mutation rate in staph and strep such that an ever-fewer number of antibiotics still work for many of the new strains, and it's ever-more difficult--and thus, costly--to find the new ones.

    My father in law was recovering from some rather elaborate surgery, and was recovering quite nicely. Some "bug" hit, and before the lab results had it identified, he was dead--in less than 24 hours. Ergo, I've sorta followed "the happenings" of antibiotic research.

    The sad thing there is that we've brought the problem upon ourselves. Folks won't take the full series, figuring that when they get to feeling better, they're cured. They'll save the remainder of the prescribed amount "in case". This leaves a few bugs alive--and these are then resistant to the "old" antibiotic.

    It happened with penicillin and then with streptomycin. Those were cheap, comparatively...

    'Rat
     
  20. zimv20 macrumors 601

    zimv20

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    #20
    ...and the doctors who overprescribe them. i can't count the number of times a doctor's wanted to give me or my friends antibiotics for a virus.
     
  21. Desertrat macrumors newbie

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    #21
    Interesting, zim. I honestly don't recall that ever occurring in my relatively few medical problems, or any in my family.

    'Rat
     
  22. zimv20 macrumors 601

    zimv20

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    #22
    i feel better knowing that what i've seen isn't completely widespread. maybe it's a city thing, or an overburdened doctor thing here.

    i know quite a few people who run to the doctor w/ a cold. i ask them why, and they quite honestly say they just want to feel better (symptom masking vs. actual recovery). these are the same people who take some actifed, masking their symptoms, and head to work, infecting the rest of us.

    seems like they're popping a lot of antibiotics, too. i wonder if the doctors sometimes prescribe them just to get them out of the office.

    myself, i prefer sleep, lots o' fluids, lots o' echinacea, plus other fun stuff like garlic and onions.
     
  23. Taft macrumors 65816

    Taft

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    #23
    This is a big problem. Occasionally I get a particularly bad sore throat and need to see a doctor.

    For me, the perfect scenario for treatment would be this:

    1. Get a strep throat culture done.
    2. Wait until the results come back ( < 1 day)
    3. If it is positive, prescribe the necessary antibiotics, if its negative, prescribe bed rest and fluids.

    However what happens more often than I'm comfortable with is that the doctor prescribes antibiotics "just in case." Sometimes, depending on the doctor, I've insisted on a culture. Other times, the doctor is adament and gives me the prescription.

    Sometimes I find it scary how much I have to police my own doctors...

    Taft
     
  24. zimv20 macrumors 601

    zimv20

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    #24
    anti-biotics are really bad for your system. all sorts of good things get killed off, too. that malaise you feel after a round of anti-biotics is your body trying to reconfigure itself.

    if you see a chinese doctor after taking anti-biotics, your body will read as though it's been poisoned. how it's treated is very similar to how you'd be treated if you were actually poisoned.
     
  25. pseudobrit macrumors 68040

    pseudobrit

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    #25
    Don't they? What are those funny little elections held for then, and why does anyone bother to run if there's no competition?

    And when's the last time you got to vote for the president of the pharmaceutical company who manufactures the drugs you use?

    Personally, I'd rather have a government that doesn't care in charge of things rather than a corporation who does care -- about getting the most of my money while giving the least of their service.

    It's simply apathy vs. parasitism.

    I'll take the apathy, thanks.
     

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