Pharma: U.S. health reform could hinder new drug development

While the healthcare reform debate rages in the United States, some in other countries fear the outcome will stifle the discovery of new drugs. Some health economists, particularly within the pharmaceutical industry, warn that instituting a price control on drugs, comparable to what the United Kingdom has done, kills funding for R&D that leads to pharmaceutical breakthroughs. Reform supporters counter that it is unfair, unreasonable and even dangerous to the U.S. economy and citizens to leave the burden of financing medical research on the backs of U.S. consumers and companies.

While some say the only way drugs can stay affordable in other countries is for drug costs to remain high in the United States, other researchers think the U.S. pharmaceutical industry is not as productive as the U.K.'s, thus rendering the argument moot.

The United States spends 16.2 percent of the GDP yearly on healthcare, about double the amount spent in the United Kingdom, yet the average American's life expectancy is significantly lower than that of citizens in other countries. Poor life expectancy rates are an exceedingly disappointing return on investment for American citizens and may negate the charitable argument in paying more in the States in order to cure ills abroad.

In addition, the U.S. pharmaceutical industry is facing a large number of drugs coming off patent protections which will further erode profits and money available for research. There is little question that the next five years will prove pivotal for the industry.

For more:
- read the BBC article