Washington DC council member David Catania actually suggested that the council should consider claiming eminent domain of certain widely prescribed pharmaceutical formulas in order to help reign in rising drug costs for the city. Catania suggests that the patents should be acquired by the government through the mayor’s declaration of a public health emergency and then generic manufacturers would be contacted to produce the drugs for cheaper than they are commercially available.
There are so many things wrong with this proposal that it is hard to decide where to begin. First off, convincing anyone that there is a public health emergency due to the cost of medicines is absolutely ridiculous. The cost of health care does need to be addressed in order for our economy to thrive, but when one breaks down the actual costs of health care one finds that medications account for only 10 percent of the overall health care spending. What would be next, claiming eminent domain over hospitals so the government can set the prices that they are allowed to charge?
Also, what Catania fails to realize is that even under eminent domain claims the government is still required to pay the fair market value to the person/entity that they are seizing the property from, so not only would they need to pay for the intellectual rights to the drugs, the government would then need to pay a generic company to produce and get approval from the FDA to sell the drug which would basically wipe out any savings Catania would hope to realize.
The eminent domain seizure of the patents of drugs would all but guarantee that pharmaceutical companies in this country would have no incentive to develop new drugs, so one hopes that all the drugs required to treat any future aliments have already been discovered. Getting these drugs cheaply now, comes at the very expensive cost of losing any future developments from pharmaceutical companies.
Daniel Spankie is the creator/editor of http://www.Chemtracker.net, a Pharmaceutical news forum for professionals.