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Letter to the Editor: Where is the Outrage?

By PAUL G. JAEHNERT
Vadnais Hts., MN

Editor:

Legislators in Congress simply do not get it.

The largest contributing factor in the cost of prescription drugs is advertising and promotion -- about 37 percent of the price we pay. The cost of research and development for new drugs does not even approach that percentage, since a huge part of the research going into the development of new drugs is performed by our National Institutes of Health (NIH).

About 25 billon dollars of taxpayer money goes to the NIH each year, much of which is spent on research for new drugs. It is the pharmaceutical industry's advertising, promotion and excessive profits, not research and development, that drives up the costs.

The waste of valuable prescription drug resources is appalling. Here's but one example of such waste: There are hundreds of thousands of pharmaceutical company ads that appear in magazines and newspapers each year. Most of the pharmaceutical ads in magazines usually contain a couple of pages of 'stats' describing the product and its contraindications. These pages are usually set in type so small that they cannot be easily read. And if one were to take the time to read it, the technical language is virtually incomprehensible to almost all readers. Since only a physician may prescribe prescription drugs, such information properly belongs in medical journals.

Billions of dollars are spent (and wasted) each year on television and print media ads. These enormous costs are reflected in the price of the product. Direct to consumer advertising of prescription drugs should be banned.

The most damnable outrage is the Medicare prescription drug legislation language that prohibits Medicare from negotiating prescription drug prices. It was the drug companies that wrote that provision into the bill. The gratuitous 'discounts' that are being offered to low income prescription drug consumers by the pharmaceutical industry are a sham.

The pharmaceutical industry does not need any more protection. It is the drug consumer who needs protection from drug companies. It's time to rein in the pharmaceutical industry drug cartel and their congressional co-conspirators.





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