Grassley, Barton & Einstein

  • by: |
  • 10/25/2005

Celebrating the centenary of Einstein’s wonder year, we are once again faced with the immutable Theory of Medicare Relativism — when politics wins, patients lose. We are also, unfortunately, faced with the implications of the Special Theory of Medicare Relativism — price controls = choice controls. The most recent example of these dreaded theorems in action is brought to the American people through the proposals of Senator Charles Grassley and Congressman Joe Barton. If the honorable gentlemen get their way, the category of medicines known as “authorized generics” (also referred to as “branded generics”) will vanish — and drug prices for millions of Americans could go up by as much as 17%. (This calculation is based on a comparison of what consumers actually spent on generics during 180-day exclusivity to what they would have spent to purchase the same quantity of generics at higher prices in the absence of a branded generic launch.) The deliverable to the American patient? Higher prices and fewer choices. Needless to say, the Grassley/Barton “modest proposal” is being greedily embraced by the generics industry. And greedy is hardly hyperbole since profits on generic medicines exceed 45% even when there is a competitive branded generic on the market. This is what we get for Medicare modernization? It’s Voltaire’s famous aphorism come to life, “The art of medicine consists in amusing the patient while nature cures the disease.” It would be far better if Chairmen Grassley and Barton followed the advice of Professor Einstein who said, “Any intelligent fool can make things bigger, more complex, and more violent. It takes a touch of genius — and a lot of courage — to move in the opposite direction.” Step up to the plate, gentlemen.


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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