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Commentary

Bad Medicine
Robert Goldberg, Ph.D., National Review Online, 8-28-06

Goldberg, the vice president of the Center for Medicine in the Public Interest, argues that California's plan to lower drug prices for middle income families by trading on the state's Medicaid formulary will only hurt its poorest citizens.

The use of drug therapy to treat mental illness—a large proportion of the state's drug budget—provides a case in point regarding the dangers of limiting access to a variety of prescription drugs. Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) are used to treat depression and a variety of affect disorders. There are more than a dozen existing SSRIs.

Yet, under California's proposed price–control plan, Medicaid patients suffering from depression and related disorders are already limited to the cheapest drugs. If new ones came on the market that were demonstrably more effective, they would not be available unless they were discounted to a huge swath of the state's population. The same would go for any type of new drug that came to market. As Loretta Jones of the Los Angeles–based Healthy African American Families notes, the gap between cutting—edge care and the needs of the poor would grow wider each year.



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