Focus Point - Al Gore on Drugs

Commentary by Pete du Pont

 I'm Pete du Pont with the National Center for Policy Analysis. Al Gore's playing classic liberal politics -- bashing "powerful and greedy" drug companies -- yet he makes promise after promise on the campaign trail -- of new cures for everything from diabetes to cancer.

But as the Washington Post's Robert Samuelson reports, you can't have it both ways.

Last year, drug companies' spent $24 billion on research and development. Of the hundreds of new drugs in development most will fail, and those that make it to market take about 15 years to develop, at a cost of $200 to $500 million each.

So who's paying for drugs?

In 1980, patients paid 66 percent of drug costs out-of-pocket, but by 1998 they paid only 27 percent. In 1996, Medicare recipients with drug insurance paid 1 percent of income to cover drug costs out-of-pocket, while those without coverage paid 2 percent.

One thing price controls on drug companies will achieve: More expensive drugs for people who aren't in trouble today.

Those are my ideas, and at the NCPA we know ideas can change the world. I'm Pete du Pont. Next time, increasing your IRA contribution.

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