Donald Trump ran his presidential campaign on a commitment to putting "America first," but this America-first mentality is nothing new in the healthcare and pharmaceutical industries. America’s intellectual property rights and free market economic system facilitate the incredible advancements in medicines that save millions of lives and often drive down the cost of treatment — both at home and in countries around the world.
Unfortunately, that successful combination of property rights, free market economics and American ingenuity are under attack by the United Nations.
Recently, American taxpayers were forced to help fund a U.N. panel ostensibly aimed at helping to improve access to medications and healthcare treatments. When the panel returned with its report, however, it was clear that money was squandered and the U.N. wasn’t interested in finding tenable solutions to make medicines more available.
Instead, the U.N. Secretary General’s High Level Panel on Access to Medicines report was used as an opportunity to bash the U.S. and advocate for communist-style price controls.
In particular, the report mounted a shortsighted and biased attack on the intellectual property protections that drive and sustain America’s innovative economy. It went on to blame U.S. laws, policies and trade agreements for preventing access to medicines around the world.
There are certainly many barriers standing between people and the treatments they need around the world. Unfortunately, the U.N. overlooked nearly all of them in order to attack the very intellectual property rights and free market economic systems responsible for almost all advancements in modern medicine.
Rather than putting their efforts towards reforms that would cut spending and ensure greater and faster access to innovative, life-saving medicines, U.N. agencies seem determined on recommending socialist-style price controls on prescriptions.
The U.N. bureaucrats believe strong price controls would fix what ails the healthcare system. But many countries have already gone down this path, and been met with unintended and unwelcomed consequences such as higher costs to consumers and fewer available medications.
Health systems that include price-control measures often refuse to cover certain medicines, leaving many patients to foot hefty bills out-of-pocket. For example, the U.S. reimburses all new cancer therapies while other countries reimburse fewer than half.
U.S. regulators also approved new drugs 355 days quicker, on average, than regulators in Canada and 90 days quicker than the European Union. In fact, according to the EU’s own data, close to 600,000 European deaths might have been prevented if their healthcare systems offered “timely and effective medical treatments."
The truth is that health innovations — from novel medical devices, new medical diagnostics, and ever-advancing pharmaceuticals — are possible as a result of a free market system and a structure of intellectual property rights that provides the incentive for companies to spend the estimated $3 billion dollars necessary to bring a new drug to market.
If the U.N. has its way, pharmaceutical companies and other businesses that develop health care innovations simply won’t be able to spend the money on the research and development necessary to create life-saving advancements in medicine. In fact, millions of people around the world will likely live shorter, less-healthy lives as a result of the U.N.
President Trump, the State Department and Members of Congress must work together to prevent global organizations from reaching into our borders to ruin a system that is working for American consumers — and saving lives all across the globe.
The U.N. should take steps to help reduce the cost of medicines around the world, but it has to be honest about the problem. Governments are responsible for much of the high costs of drugs, thanks to high tariffs and taxes on health care products, and the outrageous bureaucracy expenses associated with bringing new drugs to market.
Attacking private companies, free market economic systems and intellectual property rights will only kill the production of new medicines and make existing drugs expensive and scarce.
Drew Johnson is a Senior Scholar at the Taxpayers Protection Alliance and National Director of Protect Internet Freedom. To read more of his reports — Click Here Now.
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