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Responding to David and pointing us around the web a little

by Matthew Holt

David Williams asks me a very good question “what about putting price controls on patent expired biologics.” Thanks to David for selecting a subject which I know very little about! of course the risk is that we don’t encourage competition in manufacture of drugs, even generics, we’ll end up with a sweetheart deal between the government and the manufacturer. Apparently generics in Europe are actually rather more expensive than they are in the US, where there is rather more competition. I suspect that if we allow generics to get into the market, we’ll find that the Indians, Chinese and others are rather more adept at coming up with the new technology required to make much cheaper biologics than we achieve by merely pulling some rather generous price controls on current manufacturers. Health-care purchasers are certainly extremely concerned at the moment about biologic manufacturers are playing games by substituting the same kind of old wine in new bottles, and charging way more for it in oncology, kidney disease, ophthalmology and elsewhere. So I think some mix of David’s price controls, with a clear roadmap to bio equivalent biologic generics is probably the way to go.

Meanwhile, I’m still trying to pin down the podcasts before WHCC. But it is proving a little tricky to get the high profile speakers.

Finally, what a difference a year makes. Last year at WHCC the political talk was about transparency and HSAs. With the Democrats win in the 2006 election, and the presidential race already heating up, the words health reform and universal coverage are fresh on people’s lips.

Over at TPMCafe a cabal of mostly lefty health care wonks will be discussing Jonathan Cohn’s new book Sick. The topic is what type of health care system reform should the Democrats introduce– if you make the small assumption that they win the White House on 2008. I think it’s probably worth paying attention. After all, not very many people were paying attention to the Republican think tanks when they were discussing foreign policy in the 1990s–but we found out after 2002 that what they were talking about really mattered!

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