Gray Goose

  • by: Peter Pitts |
  • 12/14/2016
My letter to the NY Times ...

To the editor:

Clyde Haberman, in Lives and Profits in the Balance: The High Stakes of Medical Patents (NYT, December 11, 2016) raises an important issue – and then gets it wrong. Patents save lives and enhance the value of medicines. As Abraham Lincoln said, “Patents add the fuel of interest to the passion of genius.” Mr. Haberman points to the Bayh/Dole Act, and suggests that the innovator pharmaceutical industry is getting a free ride on R&D but, according to an article in Health Affairs, drugs with public-sector patents accounted for only 2.5 percent of US prescription drug spending. Also, Haberman refers to the Hepatitis C medicine Sovaldi as costing $1000 per pill. This is incorrect. Every major insurance company and pharmacy benefit manager (PBM) receives significant double-digit discounts from the manufacturer and now, with competition from other innovator companies, prices are dropping even further. That's the power of patents in a free market. The more important question is, why doesn't this result in lower co-pays for consumers? “Facts,” as John Adams said, “are pesky things.”

Center for Medicine in the Public Interest is a nonprofit, non-partisan organization promoting innovative solutions that advance medical progress, reduce health disparities, extend life and make health care more affordable, preventive and patient-centered. CMPI also provides the public, policymakers and the media a reliable source of independent scientific analysis on issues ranging from personalized medicine, food and drug safety, health care reform and comparative effectiveness.

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