Feeling uncomfortable with Medicare’s entry into providing drugs to the populace? You should be. The very last organization to be trusted with a drug plan would be a federally mandated Medicare Drug Policy under the auspices of the United States Government. If you, as a reader, are not aware of Medicare’s past performance record of waste, fraud and abuse you might just as well as sign off of this web site and return to playing video games.
Rather than another federally mandated program monitored by the United States General Accounting Office (GAO) or by the Inspector General of the Department of Health and Human Services it is eminently more reasonable to turn over this task to the presently oppressed United States citizenry. The well-informed patient represents the very best “watchdog.” Only someone with a healthy self-interest in the process can ride herd to protect against abuse. Our federal government’s track record, in this regard, have never been exemplary. To be fair, there is but little doubt but that if you have to be sick the best place to be a patient is in the United States. There is also little doubt that if you want to avoid disease and associated incapacitation you would do a great deal better to live somewhere else. Prevention and true health maintenance simply do not yet exist in the American health care community. In addition to this we have allowed federal agencies (originally created to improve safety, not efficacy, to insinuate themselves into medical practice*) to displace health care professionals and take over as the conductor of the health care orchestra.
No one in the world develops more new drugs than American drug companies. No one pays more in development costs than American drug companies. The reason for this is clear. In 1962, the Kefauver-Harris Amendment to the Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act of 1932 added the consideration of “efficacy” (originally only safety) to the food and drug laws. This really opened “Pandora’s Box.” This amendment became the government’s “full-employment act” for bureaucrats and their ballooning bureaucracies. While safety was a reasonable and rational goal, adding the vague notion of “efficacy” has represented only a more modern re-incarnation of the “Mad Hatter’s Tea Party.” We see that once again, thoughtful enabling legislation forming and empowering federal agencies to protect that public interest by addressing safety issues has been thwarted and abused.
The abuse referred to has come in many forms including the banning of drugs (an inherently flawed thought process). The Food and Drug Administration’s drug pre-approval process is lengthy, remarkably expensive, and, in fact, really doesn’t do a good job of identifying the risks of drugs the public needs to know about.
If consumers were in total charge of buying of drugs a great deal of things would change (for the better). A free-enterprise system would favor generic formulations. Simply removing the absurd cost of drug marketing to physicians would dramatically cut costs. Recently the Burton Report purchased the same amount of Claritin (now available without a prescription) from www.drugstore.com. The same drug (and same amount) was 1.7x more expensive when ordered as a prescription! There can exist little doubt but that significant changes in the drug purchase system are required.
* Something they were originally precluded, by law, from doing.