Thursday, May 3, 2007
Letters to the Editor
Response to column:
I always read all of the columns in The South Reporter and usually enjoy them all. Once in a while I see something that cries out for rebuttal, usually in Sid Salter’s column. This time, however, that column was a fountain of wisdom stating that passing a passel of new laws will not protect citizens from madmen. This time I must take unaccustomed exception with Gale Denley and his repetition of CBS’s populist cheap-shot at the pharmaceutical industry.
It has become very popular to attack pharmaceutical companies, claiming that their “overcharging” for drug prices is killing Americans, or at least making them very sick. This refrain has become so popular that very few people are willing to come to the aid of these sorely maligned companies. Before complaining about all of this “price gouging,” it would behoove us to consider what Al Gore might describe as a few “inconvenient facts.”
1. It takes millions of dollars and many years to bring a drug to the market.
2. Most drugs tested by the drug companies never make it to market because they are found to be either ineffective or dangerous.
3. The few drugs that do make it to market have to carry the cost of all the failures. If a company cannot make a profit, it will not make drugs.
4. In order to recoup its costs, a drug company is granted an exclusive right to sell the drug for a certain period of time, a patent.
5. The exclusive sales period starts to run when the company applies for the patent and starts to test the drug.
6. By the time the drug is approved for sale a lot of the patent period has already expired.
7. The drug company must recoup all of its expenses during this shortened patent period. That is why a pill that costs ten cents to make is sold for ten dollars. After the patent period runs out generic drug makers can enter the market and the price of the drug falls to a level commensurate with the cost of producing the specific pill.
8. Organizations that purchase a lot of pills can negotiate a discounted price for their pills. This is because a drug company rarely develops a drug which does not have some kind of competition from a rival. If the company refuses to offer a discount, the large purchaser will go to a competitor, whose drug may not be quite as good, but will do.
9. The Veterans’ Administration and the Canadian Government’s socialized medicine program are examples of organizations which get discounted drug prices.
10. When a large organization gets a discount, the rest of us have to make up the difference. One of the reasons our drugs are so expensive is because we are subsidizing the VA and Canadian purchasers, as well as humanitarian drug sales (or even donations) to third world areas.
11. If you do not want the latest drug, drugs are quite cheap. If you are satisfied with a drug that was the best available fifteen years ago, your drugs are very cheap. If you want the latest drug available, you are going to have to pay your share of the development costs for it and all of its failed siblings, plus your share of the VA and Canadian and humanitarian subsidies.
Can anything be done to lower drug prices? Yes, but it is very unlikely that populist politicians will do anything constructive to lower prices. They might very well give Medicare the authority to negotiate drug prices. That would lower prices for Medicare recipients, but the rest of the population would have to pick up the tab for yet another subsidy. Our caring representatives might also just introduce price controls on drugs. That would certainly solve the drug price problem. It would solve the problem completely if you are willing to use today’s drugs tomorrow, the next day and forever. There will not be any new drugs because there will be no way to recoup their development costs.
So what can be done to lower drug prices without destroying the world’s most productive drug development system? For starters, the patent period should not begin to run until the drug has been approved for sale. This would greatly extend the period during which the company can recoup its expenses, thus reducing the amount it must recoup on each pill. Extending the patent period even longer would result in even lower prices. In a perfect world, the patent period would be long enough for the drug companies to reduce their prices incrementally, starting with very high prices for the newest drugs and very low prices on drugs whose patents are about to expire. If they do the incremental reductions properly, they could put the generic drug makers out of business because the brand drugs would be selling at generic prices at the end of the patent period. What are the chances that our opportunist politicians will solve the drug price problem by altering the patent law? Slim and none. It would deprive them of a target for their populist rhetoric. I was saddened to see Denley get taken in by this populist pap.
Very truly yours,
Thanks from PTA:
On behalf of the Holly Springs Jr. High P.T.A., we wish to thank the following businesses for their donations and contributions to the Holly Springs Jr. High P.T.A.: Big Star, Captain D’s, KFC, Piggly Wiggly, Save-A-Lot, and Wal-Mart.
These donations and contributions have made each event given by the Holly Springs Jr. High P.T.A. extremely rewarding and exciting.
Again, thanks from all of us.
I want to thank Richard Brooks and Jim Polk of Victoria for cutting up two trees in our yard and moving them out of our way. God bless you both.
Take care of your
I write this letter out of frustration, anger and sadness.
As I write this, we have five puppies that we are caring for and will, to the best of our ability, find good homes for these animals. We had to put down two more dogs that came up today (one with a broken leg, one with severe damage to one of its eyes, both with evidence of widespread mange)
All of these animals had been abandoned within a mile of our house and this is not the first time!
Evidently Rabbit Ridge Road is a favorite spot for irresponsible, uncaring, hardhearted people to simply drop off their four-legged problems.
I write out of frustration, as I said, because this is not the first time this has happened. Over the 18 years we have lived here, we have had close to 100 animals dropped off in the vicinity of our house. Many of these have gone to (hopefully) good homes; some were too far gone to survive.
Why should an innocent animal have to suffer because someone doesn’t have the sense to get the animal neutered, or the courage to end its life humanely?
I understand the cost of both all too well, but it’s a better alternative than leaving the dog to slowly starve, or be injured and suffer a slow painful death.
I write out of anger because, in my eyes, if someone drops off an animal and it winds up at my door, then not only myself, but also my entire family is subjected to the pain of having to deal with someone else’s problem. I do not mind helping someone who can’t help themselves, if I am in a position to do so, but it makes me angry to have someone simply “dump” their problems on my family, and then probably go and get another puppy and, when they get tired of it, repeat the whole process again.
I write out of sadness because these animals are innocent victims of man’s cruelty. They don’t ask for this treatment, and even when they receive it, they will usually turn to lick the hand of anyone who shows the slightest bit of compassion to them. If well cared for, these animals often bring a surprising amount of happiness into their owner’s life, all in exchange for a little food and water and a quiet place to lay their heads down when they rest.
In conclusion, please don’t tell me to get in touch with the local animal shelter. As far as I can tell, we really don’t have one in Marshall County, and the times that we have tried to contact them, they couldn’t really help us. They are overwhelmed also.
To the next person, whomever you may be, that will drop your unwanted animal off on my road “because you’re sure it will find a good home,” I will be doing everything I possibly can to prevent this from happening.
(662) 252-4261 or email@example.com
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