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Letter to the Editor: Negotiated drugs not beneficial

Sunday, July 15, 2007

To the editor:U.S. Rep. Jo Ann Emerson's call for the federal government to negotiate Medicare drug prices directly with pharmaceutical companies is seriously misguided ("Emerson sees big problems coming in health care," July 6).

First, it is not even clear that allowing the government to negotiate prices would save any money. As the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office recently concluded, "Government price negotiation would not yield lower drug prices compared to current law."

Second, the only government program that has been successful at reducing drug costs through negotiations is the VA, which doesn't negotiate at all. Rather, it imposes price controls. Under the VA model, drug companies must sell their products to the government at a price that is at least 24 percent less than the non-federal average manufacturer price.

If similar price controls were imposed under Medicare Part D, the end result would be less patient choice and stifled innovation into new drugs.

PETER PITTS, Director, Center for Medicine in the Public Interest, New York