Letters to the Editor

Process of developing medicines takes time, incurs costs

Recently, the Democratic presidential candidates debated in South Carolina about the cost of health care, and specifically the cost of prescription drugs. It is popular to target pharmaceutical companies as the villain, especially in light of the recent bad actions of the CEO of Turing Pharmaceuticals. That is a very narrow view of this issue.

The fact is that government price controls and intervention will only hinder doctors’ efforts to save or improve the lives of their patients. Patients need access to the drugs they need without having to pay more out of their own pocket — especially when they already pay high premiums and co-pays for coverage.

The cost of prescription drugs is high due, in large part, to the cost of drug development, long approval processes from the federal government, and the even longer odds of a drug making it to market. If we choose to ignore the obstacles that are part of the research and testing process, the public is only getting one small piece of the picture.

While worries of costs abound we must also keep in mind the danger of experimental drugs that have not been adequately tested, as was demonstrated by the case in France in which a drug trial left one person brain dead and five hospitalized. More discussion is warranted on how to reduce costs, but that discussion must be inclusive of all parties, including the insurance industry.

With today’s technological advancements, we are all accustomed to life at a much faster pace. Unfortunately, pharmaceutical innovation doesn’t happen overnight. It would be irresponsible to stifle that innovation and prevent tomorrow’s cures from becoming a reality.

Dr. Joe P. Hardy

Nevada state senator

 

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