Joe Paduda is puzzled that drug company prices and profits are going up, yet the NY Times thinks that we can’t get a better deal on drug prices for Medicare. But in some ways that’s a little irrelevant, as the introduction of price negotiations are a political not an economic question. And despite the fact that in 2003 negotiations were politically unacceptable to Tom Delay et al, it appears that (as quoted in Krugman’s column today), the politics of negotiation are all one way.
This is clear from the latest Newsweek poll, which shows overwhelming public support for the agenda Nancy Pelosi has laid out for her first 100 hours if she becomes House speaker. The strongest support is for her plan to have Medicare negotiate with drug companies for lower prices, which is supported by 74 percent of Americans — and by 70 percent of Republicans!
Even assuming that the Dems don’t fumble their current advantage away (or more accurately that the Republicans don’t keep shooting themselves in the foot and the knees) and they take the House and Senate, we’re not getting negotiations tomorrow. First, it might not get past the Senate filibuster, although those poll numbers are pretty scary for Republicans and will take a boatload of PhRMA cash to overcome. Second, Bush will likely veto it, as the current MMA is basically what passes for his domestic legacy (unless he wants “I cut taxes for the richest people in the world and made the children of the middle class pay for it” on his tombstone).
But in any event Pharma needs to prepare for a world in which Medicare drug price “negotiations” are much more likely than they’ve expected heretofore.