What we’re reading: Drug prices and global free-loading? Or pharmaceutical free-loading?

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On Friday, as the World Health Organization, related agencies, and international nonprofits geared up for the challenges confronting swift responses to the latest Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo, the Trump administration released a plan to bring down the price of medicines for diseases here in the United States. Among its analyses of medicine cost-drivers, according to President Trump, the plan took issue with the impact of “free-loading” countries around the world where life-saving drugs, while remaining out of reach for significant portions of their populations, are not as expensive as they are in the U.S. Following the administration’s release of a plan to rescind funds allocated to strengthening responses to infectious diseases worldwide, and the disbanding of the White House staff leading global health security activities, it was the third event in a week to indicate the administration perceives health challenges across the world are unconnected from health outcomes here. We’re reading fact-checkers and front-line responders, who say that’s not how it works.

Raising drug prices abroad won’t lower U.S. prescription costs –  ” . . . declaring that U.S. drug prices are high but that other countries should pay the same high price is probably the least useful thing from the [president’s] whole proposal . . .” is one response of one health care expert consulted by CBS Moneywatch on President Trump’s charge that countries taking “unfair” advantage of mechanisms to make medicines accessible (and salable) are inflating prices in the U.S.

Pharmaceutical corporations need to stop free-riding on publicly funding research – This pre-emptive piece, released by Doctors Without Borders, USA leader Jason Cone two months before the release of the White House plan notes that with the development of all 210 drugs to reach market in the U.S. between 2010 and 2016 supported by publicly funded research, American taxpayers get to pay for medicines twice, while pharmaceutical companies get to reap the profits. At the same time, life-saving vaccinations continue to be priced out of reach overseas.

Trump’s “America First” agenda on drug pricing could backfire around the world – “critics note that companies have often rewarded shareholders, not patients, when they get a policy perk from the government” is among the responses to the Trump plan here.

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