by Stacy Washington
President Donald Trump promised, “America will never be a socialist country” — at least not while he’s in office.
But some members of his administration didn’t get the memo. The Department of Health and Human Services still plans to impose socialist, European-style price controls on advanced drugs administered through Medicare.
The proposal would tie Medicare’s drug reimbursement rates to the average prices paid by governments that impose price controls on medicines. Officials hope their scheme will reduce pharmaceutical spending in America.
Their plan would jeopardize Americans’ access to state-of-the-art drugs.
The administration wants to overhaul Medicare Part B, which covers advanced drugs administered in doctors’ offices. These drugs cost 80 percent more in America than in other developed countries. HHS’ plan would gradually ratchet down Medicare reimbursement rates, so that the government would pay, at most, 26 percent more than the average developed nation price.
Copying socialist tactics will only make it harder for Americans to access new therapies.
Many of the newest drugs aren’t available in developed countries that impose price controls. Only two-thirds of new drugs launched worldwide between 2011 and 2018 are available in the United Kingdom. Roughly half are available in France and Canada. By contrast, 88 percent of those new drugs are available in the United States — including nearly 95 percent of new cancer medicines.
Price controls would also subvert efforts to develop cures for deadly diseases.
Medical research is risky. It costs $2.6 billion to develop a new drug. Close to 90 percent of experimental treatments fail to gain U.S. Food and Drug Administration approval.
Price controls make it difficult for companies to recoup their upfront costs. They kill the incentive to invest in cures. If HHS adopts these price caps, drug development will grind to a halt — and patients will suffer.
Fighting socialism with socialism will only harm patients. Let’s hope Trump nixes HHS’ plan.
Stacy Washington is a decorated Air Force veteran, an Emmy-nominated TV personality, and the host of a nationally syndicated radio program.
This article originally appeared in The Press and Journal.