Drug Markets and Regulation

With this attitude, we’re not going to have much of a drug development or production industry—to the detriment of our drug market.

“A big part of our concern is not just Sovaldi [a new, and so still very expensive, drug with a near-perfect cure rate for Hepatitis C], but all the other specialty drugs,” said Mario Molina, the CEO of Molina Healthcare that runs Medicaid and ObamaCare plans in nine states, on a July earnings call. He added: “I think that the government needs to step in here and make sure that the market is rational. If we as a health plan want a rate increase, we have to go to our regulators and get it approved. There’s no such thing going on in the pharmaceutical market.

Molina’s last is a valid beef. Health plan providers shouldn’t have to go to government regulators to get permission to set a price, either. Government simply should not have that regulatory power. But a man used to government regulation, indeed who’s dependent on his company’s status as a protected oligopolist, no longer even can conceive of having to compete on price and service.

He concluded his plaint:

Right now, pharmaceutical companies can charge whatever they want, and I think there needs to be a rational basis for all of this.

Of course, there is exactly that rational basis: it’s the supply and demand price setting of a free market.  Again, though, a concept lost on a man of a protected oligopoly.

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