Tale of Two Pages: WSJ Coverage of Drug Pricing
Jeanne Whelan’s article “Why the US Pays More for Than Other Countries for Drugs” is misleading and inaccurate. Whelan overstates the price gap in several ways. She ignores that vast majority of medicines that are launched at the same or lower price in the United States. She cherry picked countries with lowest prices and excluded those with higher prices such as Ireland, Belgium and Germany. Finally, she focuses on older (mostly) cancer drugs that been price controlled for a decade in order to overstate the difference even more. Whelan assumes that drug prices increase cost and reduce access. It turns out most countries – including Norway, UK and Canada – spend more on cancer care as a share of total health care spending as America. Adjusting cancer drug prices to EU levels would cut total health spending in the US by .33 percent. Applying price controls would mean more Americans would die from cancer and other serious illnesses such as heart disease. A study of European cancer spending and mortality concluded countries that with faster access and increased spending on new drugs had a 17 percent decrease in cancer deaths, mortality, compared to 8 percent in such as Canada and UK that Whelan selected. 1 Price controls are also associated with more heart attack deaths. Other countries that spend less on new drugs, spend more on health care and have more premature death.