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Nov 26 2013

Reckless anti-science alarmism

Simon Davis wrote a great article on the main Greek opposition party’s bad move in attempting to block legislation that would bring down generic drug prices, and using alarmist anti-science rhetoric to do it.

The main reason why their handling of this issue is so misguided is because they are relying on reckless anti-science alarmism. Leading the charge is SYRIZA party leader Alexis Tsipras, whose statements today about “cheap and dubious [generic] drugs” have absolutely no demonstrable scientific basis.

In addition, there is no logical basis nor has anyone articulated any convincing rationale about how SYRIZA’s position is even remotely related to their stated left-wing party principles. The proposed legislation sets a price ceiling of 50% of the innovator drug price or the average of the lowest prices in three other EU countries, whichever is less. It also mandates that all generic drugs are priced at a maximum of 65% of their off-patent equivalents. In other words, when an innovator drug’s patent expires, patients will have access to generic alternatives that are priced at a maximum of 32.5% of the price. The only reason why off-patent medication is available today in Greece at relatively high prices despite a lack of patent protection is because of the manufacturers’ name recognition. So when SYRIZA decides to oppose sensible legislation that limits the price of off-patent medication, the result is that they [are] siding with large drug companies’ profits.

Doesn’t sound like a brilliant way to get votes, does it.

 

11 comments

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  1. 1
    Al Dente

    Despite the availability of cheaper drugs, we support expensive drugs because of reasons we pulled out of our collective arses.

  2. 2
    Simon

    “Doesn’t sound like a brilliant way to get votes, does it.”

    The chemtrails constituency has come out in favor I hear.

  3. 3
    Simon

    For what Al Dente said, there are very depressing possible reasons like protecting the interests of drug retailers and local distributors/manufacturers (some of who own media outlets).

    None of which justify people paying higher prices when there are readily available generics sold all over the EU nor scaring people into thinking imported medication is unregulated.

  4. 4
    John Morales

    Simon @3, to amplify on your point, I note that people generally assign greater value to an item that’s a brand name than to an equally-good item that isn’t, or to an original that’s functionally indistinguishable from a copy of it.

    (I find normality weird)

  5. 5
    lpetrich

    A left-wing party proposing that??? That’s almost too weird to believe. That’s the sort of thing that one might expect to come out of the right wing, at least judging from what the US left and right are like. What’s going on here?

  6. 6
    Shatterface

    I’ve heard solid, coherent rightwing arguments against copyright (including copyright of drugs) so ‘left’ and ‘right’ aren’t necessarily useful terms in this context.

  7. 7
    anthrosciguy

    To get votes, no. To get campaign money, yes. Campaign money then gets votes, and I think – based on what we’ve seen in campaigns that the extra money would more than outweigh any votes lost. Sad fact of present day life. One that needs changing. How?

  8. 8
    Simon

    @John Morales: That is exactly their angle. They’re more or less advocating in favor of the bigger brands as “safer”. Which is preposterous and horrible since it decreases people’s trust that all regulated medicine is safe and tested.

  9. 9
    jeffrey

    Gives one to imagine someone’s getting kickbacks from the drug companies.

  10. 10
    Simon

    My favorite part was when the SYRIZA party newspaper published an anonymous article where -I kid you not- the author referred to government incentives for doctors to prescribe generics as “government kickbacks”. It was Orwellian.

  11. 11
    lpetrich

    Shatterface #6, so it seems that the right would be split on this. Property rights vs. artificial monopolies.

    I don’t see how the left might be split on this, however.

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