Unfortunately, a new plan from the Department of Health and Human Services undermines this goal.
HHS Sec. Alex Azar recently unveiled a new Medicare proposal that simply copies the foreign price-control policies that have enabled other countries to underpay for drugs for so long. Not only does the change fail to hold "freeloading" countries accountable — it will undermine access to life-changing medicines here in the United States.
Why are brand-name drugs cheaper in foreign countries than they are here in the United States? Simply put, it's because of price controls. In countries like the United Kingdom, Canada, France, and Sweden, the government dictates what drug companies can charge for their products.
The prices of prescription drugs sold in Sweden, for instance, are determined by the Pharmaceutical Benefits Board. Canada's Patented Medicine Prices Review Board plays a similar role. So does France's Economic Committee on Health Care Products.