To the editors:
Re “The Quick Fix” by Harold Henderson [November 7] regarding the issue of importing cheaper Canadian drugs:
All of the people quoted in Henderson’s article come to the issue of pharmaceutical pricing from the standpoint of classical free-market economics, but it deserves to be noted that the pharmaceutical industry is oligopolistic: the market is dominated by a small number of producers, and the barriers to entry are high. As any Econ 101 textbook will tell you, classical economics applies much less well in these situations.
Now here’s a thought: why not require the pharmaceutical industry to open its books to the public so we could see just how much research and development really does cost and how much the industry spends on advertising and high executive salaries. This way the drug companies would still be competing on the same level playing field (albeit a different field than the one they now play on!), and we could then BEGIN to have a sane discussion about what to do about high drug costs.