Policy Misdiagnoses Also Harm Patients

The problems of the U.S. health-care system are mounting. Prices are high. Expenditures are unaffordable. And quality is declining. While something must be done, doing the wrong thing will cause more harm than good. And this is why Mytheos Holt’s editorial on May 18, 2017, is so disappointing.
By simplistically blaming the health-care crisis on pharmaceuticals, he is misdiagnosing the problems plaguing the U.S. health-care system. As a result, he recommends policies that will not solve the health-care system’s affordability problems and will put future pharmaceutical innovations at risk.
Part of the misdiagnosis arises because of the excessively complicated pharmaceutical market. In most markets, prices are easily observable. This is not the case for pharmaceuticals. The list prices of pharmaceuticals do not reflect the costs imposed on the payers in the health-insurance market.
Instead, the prices paid by the payers and the prices received by the manufacturers reflect the discounts and retrospective rebates negotiated by

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