Cleveland Plain Dealer
September 29, 2004
Kucinich unveiled the idea at his Lakewood office Wednesday before flying to Washington, D.C., where he and six co-sponsors introduced the legislation in the U.S. House.
His "Free Market Drug Act" would create a federal Institute for Biomedical Research and Development within the National Institutes of Health that would oversee pharmaceutical research by government labs, and universities and private companies working under government contracts.
Their research would be public, and the formulas they develop for new drugs would be available to any manufacturer approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to make them.
That's the way most generic drugs are marketed, with several companies manufacturing similar generic medicines and competing for sales.
"Competition lowers the price," said Doug Gordon, a Kucinich spokesman.
The $20 billion Kucinich said is needed to support the drug research would come from the money the government will save when drug prices plummet. The Medicaid program could save about $15 billion annually and the new Medicare drug plan could save an estimated $60 billion a year, according to the plan.
It's no surprise the drug industry doesn't think much of the congressman's proposal.
"The U.S. pharmaceutical and biotechnology research industry spends in excess of $30 billion a year to research and develop new medicines," said Jeff Trewhitt, a spokesman for the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America. "We have a system that works, and we should keep it."
Drug makers have said that high research costs are a key factor in high drug prices. A recent Families USA survey reported that prices for the leading brand-name drugs rose an average 22 percent in the past three years.