To the editor: The pharmaceutical industry's claim that allowing Medicare to negotiate drug prices is tantamount to socialism seems to turn the argument of who is profiting from whom on its head. The industry's threat that innovation would suffer if it had to negotiate (fair) drug prices with Medicare doesn't seem right. ("Drugmakers see disaster in Medicare negotiating prices. Don't listen to them," column, Sept. 16)
Don't our taxpayer dollars fund much of the basic research leading to the discovery of new drugs? Unlike corporate investors, our government does not receive a share of the profits if one of those drugs is successful.
It would be highly educational for the readers to be provided with a detailed money flow analysis that illustrates how much our government contributes to the research and development (R&D) of drugs and how much of pharmaceutical industry profits are invested back into R&D.
This analysis might just show that "corporate socialism" is the current status quo.
Markus Iseli, Los Angeles
To the editor: Kudos to columnist David Lazarus for pointing out that allowing Medicare to negotiate drug prices for its beneficiaries would be in keeping with free-market principles, contrary to what the drug companies claim.
Missing from Lazarus' column is an obvious truth: Medicare drugs are purchased and consumed by elderly Americans, age 65 and up. They are truly the most vulnerable among us and some of the poorest. Cutting prices in some cases by 50% will result in less illness and death among seniors.
The time is long past to replace our immoral health system that limits or denies essential care or medicine so it can increase profits.
Christopher T. Armen, Calabasas
This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.