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Commentary

Overdose of restraints could sicken industry
Michael H. Davidson, Chicago Sun-Times, 2-27-07

Michael Davidson argues that the public's current negative perception of the pharmaceutical industry may have very serious consequences for public health.

Despite the pharmaceutical industry's role of discovering and developing life-saving therapies, many politicians and the media have piled on criticism in recent years that is eroding the public's faith in one of the nation's most important scientific engines. It is easy to malign "Big Pharma" as an industry that reaps substantial profits.

But an above-average return on investment is essential for the pharmaceutical industry because without high rewards, companies would have no incentive to invest in high-risk investigational therapies. With regulatory hurdles and the complexity of clinical development on the rise, bringing a new medicine to market requires, on average, more than $800 million.

The public's perception of the pharmaceutical industry has real policy implications. For instance, politicians for years have worked to reduce drug costs for Americans by pushing for the importation of drugs from Canada. There is no practical difference between imposing price controls on drugs sold in the United States and importing drugs from a country such as Canada, which already has price controls. Both "solutions" may offer short-term cost relief yet pose an unacceptable threat to the financial health of our country's research-based pharmaceutical industry.



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