Oh, and the Jobs with Justice campaign just posted a "Special Report" wherein it talks about this, too. The full report can be found at http://www.jwj.org/community/healthcare ... TIONAL.pdf
Here's an excerpt on what they say about the pharma situation:
Embargoed until October 7, 2004
WASTE NOT, WANT NOT
How Eliminating Insurance and Pharmaceutical
Industry Waste Could Fund Health Care for All
This report was released in conjunction with Health Care Action Week, October 3 – 10, 2004.
During the week of action, 11 unions and many health care reform organizations worked together with the Jobs with Justice coalitions to send a message to politicians and employers demanding health care reforms that would expand and improve Medicare -type coverage for all rather than undermine or privatize existing programs.
Jobs with Justice is indebted to Dean Baker and the Center for Economic and Policy Research for the research and data supporting this report’s findings.
Report funded by:
American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees, Association of Flight Attendants, Communications Workers of America, Jobs with Justice, International Longshore & Warehouse Union, National Education Association, United Food & Commercial Workers
"....While the costly administration of the insurance industry is one of the biggest single sources of waste in the U.S. health care system, it is not the only one. The United States spends far more on drugs each year – more than $200 billion in 2004 – than any other country in the world.
Furthermore, drug prices are the most rapidly growing health care expense. Drugs are projected to cost the country almost $520 billion annually by 2013, more than $1,700 per person. There is no reason that drugs have to cost this much. With few exceptions, drugs are cheap to
produce and would sell for a low price in a competitive market. Drugs are only expensive because the U.S. government grants the pharmaceutical industry unrestricted patent monopolies. These patent monopolies allow drug companies to charge as much as they want, without fear that competitors in the market will undercut their prices. The United States is the only country in the world that gives the industry unrestricted patent monopolies.
As a result of these unrestricted patent monopolies, people in the United States pay twice as much for their drugs as do people in Canada or other rich counties. Some drugs sell for prices in the United States that are three or four times as high as the price that the same drug – subject
to the same quality and safety standards – sells for in other rich countries. For example, a recent study found that Tamoxifin, a drug used in the treatment of breast cancer, sells for more than seven times as much in the United States as in Canada.7 There are huge potential savings from bringing the cost of drugs in the United States down to levels that are more in line with the costs elsewhere in the world.
There are two ways to reduce drug costs in the United States. First, the U.S. government could do what other governments do, and negotiate a price with the industry based on the usefulness of the drug. If we followed the model of Canada, Australia and other countries,
these negotiations could save us close to $100 billion annually, given current levels of spending. By 2013, the savings would be up in the neighborhood of $250 billion a year.7
6 This information and other numbers in this paper are taken from the Center for Economic and Policy Research's paper, "Insuring
the Uninsured: The Gains From Reducing Waste." This paper can be found at the CEPR website at http://www.cepr.net/publications/health_care_reform.htm].
7 See the price comparisons available at http://www.voiceoffreedom.com/archives/ ... costs.html .
The second way to reduce drug costs is to simply allow new drugs to be sold in a more competitive market, like any other good. The pharmaceutical industry claims that it needs patent protection in order to pay for research into new drugs. But more than half of bio-medical
research is already supported either by the government, through the National Institutes of Health, or through private non-profit organizations such as universities, foundations, and private charities.
The Free Market Drug Act, recently proposed by Representative Dennis Kucinich, would simply increase publicly funded research by a large enough amount to replace the research currently paid for by the pharmaceutical industry, thereby eliminating the need for patent
If passed, all of the drugs developed through publicly funded research would then be sold in a competitive market, just like pencils, papers, furniture or any of the other things we buy. While drugs would still have to be approved by the Food and Drug Administration and meet the same safety standards as they do now, the government would not enforce patent monopolies that allow firms to charge exorbitant prices. By ending the patent monopoly that the drug companies currently enjoy, the savings on prescription drugs would be close to $120 billion at current spending levels, and would rise to more than $300 billion annually by 2013.
The savings from either buying prescription drugs at a negotiated price or allowing them to be sold in a more competitive market would go far toward paying the cost of covering the uninsured. ...
8 For more information on the Kucinich proposal see http://www.house.gov/kucinich/issues/fr ... rugact.htm
9 This issue is discussed in more detail in the National Coalition of Health Care's "Facts About Health Care,"