There Is No Single, Best Policy for Drug Prices


There Is No Single, Best Policy for Drug Prices

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A majority of Americans prefer greater regulation of prescription drug prices, meaning government intervention to lower them.

But don’t count on a single policy to address a nuanced problem.

“All low-priced drugs are alike; all high-priced drugs are high priced in their own way,” Craig Garthwaite, a health economist from Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management, wrote with a colleague.

Outside of a few government programs — like Medicaid and the Veterans Health Administration — low-priced drugs are alike in that competition is the sole source of downward pressure on prices. When many generic versions of a brand-name drug enter the market, competition can push their prices 80 percent below the brand price, or sometimes even more.

In contrast, high-priced drugs lack competition for various reasons, “not all of which imply our goal should be to reduce prices,” Mr. Garthwaite said.

 

 

 

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