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Healthcare

Trump’s drug import plan will make us all pay

Make Canada Great Again?

Believe it or not, that’s what is at the center of President Donald Trump’s latest executive order aimed at trying to lower the cost of prescription drugs for Americans.

Trump’s plan, dubbed the “Most-Favored-Nation-Price” model, would effectively import price controls on pharmaceuticals from other nations with single-payer, government-run health systems, including Canada.

With this order, Trump will force Medicare to pay the same negotiated rates as other countries that don’t have the same level of innovation or access to medicines as the U.S

That means that while drug prices for certain seniors will be lower in the short term, it will mean higher costs in the long-term, jeopardizing future drug development, and access. And that will be bad for every American, not to mention our retirees on Medicare.

As an example, modern drug development requires not only massive investment but also time and the ability to experiment through trial and error. Only one of every 5,000-10,000 substances synthesized will make it successfully through all stages of product development to become an approved drug. That’s a big risk and one that only pays off if these drugs can be sold and used. 

Many projects fail to bring even one drug to market. Investing in life sciences requires a healthy risk appetite, and therefore an incentive scheme that rewards those able to create value is necessary. 

By the time a medical drug reaches the regular patient, an average of 12.5 years will have elapsed since the first discovery of the new active substance. The total investment needed to get to one active substance that can be accessed by a patient is around $2 billion. And that is just for medicines we already know we need.

There are over 10,000 known diseases in the world but approved treatment for merely 500 of them. It may be easy to dictate lower prices for these medicines, but that will mean that drug developers will not have the same means to invest in research for the remaining 95% of diseases we cannot yet cure.

Added to that, the U.S. can count on access to all sorts of innovative medicines because of our innovators and inventors.

By forcing lower prescription drug prices for our elderly, Trump seems eager to harm our ability to find cures for those who still hope for the development of a cure for their untreatable diseases and future access to the medicines we need.

Such a move may play well in voter rich Florida, with a large population of seniors anxious about drug prices, but it shatters the unique mix of both innovation and entrepreneurship that leads the U.S. to be the world’s top creator and supplier of badly-needed drugs. Half of the top pharmaceutical companies in the world are headquartered in our country, and for good reason.

Trump, for his part, claims that this will stop “free-riding” from other nations on the US’ relatively high drug prices. And that is indeed a concern that touches many of us. But such a rash plan will put a chokehold on innovation across the entire sector of our drug industry.

If Trump wants other countries to “pay their fair share” on drug prices, the best method is by trade agreements and negotiation, not by emulating anti-innovation policies from other nations.

To achieve cheaper drug prices, there are simpler and cheaper ways to tackle this.

For one, the president should be open to a reform of the Food and Drug Administration. Too much time is lost trying to get drugs approved across every industrialized country. If we recognized drug approvals from all other countries in the OECD, this would lower costs and accelerate the pace of bringing drugs to the US market.

We cannot risk our entire drug infrastructure for the hope of short-term lower costs. If the Trump administration wants our nation to remain a shining beacon of innovation and allows its patients to access state-of-the-art medicine, we should not import bad policies from abroad.

Yaël Ossowski is deputy director at the Consumer Choice Center.

Americans Need to Divorce Health Insurance From Our Jobs

In between the jabs during the first presidential debate, both President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden stumbled through their visions for healthcare reform.

While Biden wants to expand a “public option,” a kind of Obamacare plus, Trump focused on his executive orders mandating cheaper drug prices and the congressional repeal of the Obamacare individual mandate.

Neither leaves voters feeling heard.

That there was no substantive health debate is a shame, considering health insurance costs and coverage personally affect every American. Who doesn’t have their own health insurance horror story?

If we want to radically improve insurance and healthcare in our country to ensure that every American receives the care they need, we have to be bold. And that begins with divorcing insurance from where we work.

Not only would that improve the choices of consumers, but it would also help lower costs and provide more options for people who aren’t covered in the current system. That would empower individuals to choose their health plans according to their needs.

As of March 2019, the U.S. Census estimates that 91 percent of the population had health insurance. Nearly one third receive coverage from government health insurance, whether Medicare, Medicaid or state employees. Left out are approximately 29.9 million Americans without health insurance — public, private or otherwise.

The number of uninsured is an important metric because it is the target group for most substantial health insurance reforms of the past decade, including Obamacare at the federal level and the expansion of Medicaid eligibility at the state level, both problematic in their own right.

According to a Kaiser Family Foundation survey, 45 percent of the uninsured say the cost is too high, while 31 percent of the uninsured lost their coverage because they made too much money for Medicaid or they changed employers.

The single largest category of the insured in our country is those who receive insurance through their jobs, approximately 54 percent. Why is that?

Since 1973, the federal government provided incentives to employers who set up Health Maintenance Organizations (HMOs) for their employees. Since then, our health insurance market has pivoted to match having a job with health insurance.

Incentives to employers to cover healthcare for their employees is good policy on its face, but it has led to unforeseen economic consequences.

Employee health plans, managed by state-based health insurers (another worthy reform to consider), often become a headache for workers and firms alike.

These plans aim to define benefits and coverage according to a firm’s needs and often have to hire several people to oversee them. Then, bureaucracy balloons, administrative costs creep up, and whatever advantage these plans initially offered is now buried in red tape.

Added to that, if you leave your job for another one or find yourself unemployed, you are now one of the 9 percent without health insurance, which puts you at risk.

There has to be a better way.

The alternative to this system would be a free and open marketplace in which individuals would be empowered to choose their healthcare insurance plan according to their needs, just like car insurance. Employers could offer cash subsidies in line with current federal incentives, but the choice of plan would remain that of the workers.

Such a plan would then empower people to try new innovative healthcare delivery models, such as direct primary care, concierge medicine, and medical startups.

As a relatively young and healthy person, for example, I opt for high deductible emergency insurance that is there when I need it. Smaller health expenses are paid in cash or with a health savings account that offers tax benefits. If I have a more serious injury or illness, my insurance covers the costs.

For me, and likely for millions of other individuals, this arrangement works. It is how insurance is supposed to work. We take out insurance to cover the costs and the risks we don’t foresee, not to cover each routine transaction we make with a provider. It’s the same reason we don’t insure windshield wipers or tires on our cars.

If someone wants more comprehensive insurance, they should be free to take it. And the costs should be reflective of that option.

If employees could be encouraged to build their plans, that would remove administrative and bureaucratic hurdles from existing insurance arrangements or mandates. It would also encourage more competition and lower prices from health insurers, helping bring down costs for employers and employees alike.

But doing so will require a huge shift in the way we think as Americans. We can no longer marry our health insurance to our jobs.

Separation of job and insurance should be a mantra as much as separation of church and state. And federal policy should encourage Americans who take control of their own private health insurance plan.

Originally published here.

Americans need to separate health insurance from our jobs

If we want to radically improve insurance and health care in our country to ensure that every American receives the care they need, we have to be bold. And that begins with divorcing insurance from where we work.

Not only would that improve the choices of consumers, but it would also help lower costs and provide more options for people who aren’t covered in the current system. That would empower individuals to choose their health plans according to their needs.

As of March 2019, the U.S. Census estimates that 91% of the population had health insurance. Nearly one third receive coverage from government health insurance, whether Medicare, Medicaid or state employees. Left out are approximately 29.9 million Americans without health insurance — public, private or otherwise.

The number of uninsured is an important metric because it is the target group for most substantial health insurance reforms of the past decade, including Obamacare at the federal level and the expansion of Medicaid eligibility at the state level, both problematic in their own right.

According to a Kaiser Family Foundation survey, 45% of the uninsured say the cost is too high, while 31% of the uninsured lost their coverage because they made too much money for Medicaid or they changed employers.

The single largest category of the insured in our country is those who receive insurance through their jobs, approximately 54%. Why is that?

Since 1973, the federal government provided incentives to employers who set up Health Maintenance Organizations for their employees. Since then, our health insurance market has pivoted to match having a job with health insurance. Incentives to employers to cover health care for their employees is good policy on its face, but it has led to unforeseen economic consequences.

Employee health plans, managed by state-based health insurers (another worthy reform to consider), often become a headache for workers and firms alike.

These plans aim to define benefits and coverage according to a firm’s needs and often have to hire several people to oversee them. Then, bureaucracy balloons, administrative costs creep up, and whatever advantage these plans initially offered is now buried in red tape.

Added to that, if you leave your job for another one or find yourself unemployed, you are now one of the 9% without health insurance, which puts you at risk.

There has to be a better way.

The alternative to this system would be a free and open marketplace in which individuals would be empowered to choose their health care insurance plan according to their needs, just like car insurance. Employers could offer cash subsidies in line with current federal incentives, but the choice of plan would remain that of the workers.

Such a plan would then empower people to try new innovative health care delivery models, such as direct primary care, concierge medicine and medical startups.

We take out insurance to cover the costs and the risks we don’t foresee, not to cover each routine transaction we make with a provider. It’s the same reason we don’t insure windshield wipers or tires on our cars.

If someone wants more comprehensive insurance, they should be free to take it. And the costs should be reflective of that option.

If employees could be encouraged to build their plans, that would remove administrative and bureaucratic hurdles from existing insurance arrangements or mandates. It would also encourage more competition and lower prices from health insurers, helping bring down costs for employers and employees alike.

But doing so will require a huge shift in the way we think as Americans. We can no longer marry our health insurance to our jobs.

Separation of job and insurance should be a mantra as much as separation of church and state. And federal policy should encourage Americans who take control of their own private health insurance plan.


Yaël Ossowski is a writer and deputy director at the Consumer Choice Center, a consumer advocacy group based in Washington, D.C.

Originally published here.

Safeguarding IP rights is key to defeating COVID-19

COVID-19 has exposed our unpreparedness for a crisis of global scope. As much as globalisation is partly to blame for the virus’ speedy expansion, it is also thanks to the interconnectedness of our world that we have been able to preserve international trade – despite a bundle of constraints and cries for protectionism – during these tough times. In particular, that has to do with exports of essential medical devices such as masks, ventilators, personal protective equipment. The shortages experienced by many countries have triggered an intergovernmental discussion on the scope of compulsory licencing and IP protection covered by The Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS). 

As a global consumer advocacy group, we at the Consumer Choice Center are hereby sharing our perspective on the matter in the hope to contribute to this timely debate. 

The TRIPS agreement is an integral part of the World Trade Organisation’s intellectual property legal base. Among other things, the agreement whose primary aim is to safeguard intellectual property rights, also includes provisions on compulsory licencing, or use of subject matter of a patent without the authorisation of the right holder (Article 31). Essentially, this means that “in the case of a national emergency or other circumstances of extreme urgency or in cases of public non-commercial use,” a Member government may allow someone else to produce a patented product or process without the consent of the patent owner. 

Whereas, under normal circumstances, the person or company applying for a licence must have first attempted, unsuccessfully, to obtain a voluntary licence from the right holder on reasonable commercial terms (Article 31b). However, there is no need to try for a voluntary licence first under TRIPS flexibilities.

TRIPS flexibilities, therefore, allow countries to override global IP rules to mitigate the damage caused by an emergency and have been mainly applied where pharmaceuticals have been concerned. 

In July, South Africa issued a communication titled “Beyond Access to Medicines and Medical Technologies Towards a More Holistic Approach to TRIPS Flexibilities.”  It was pointed out that the COVID-19 response required looking beyond patents towards a more “integrated approach to TRIPS flexibilities that include other various types of intellectual property (IP) rights including copyrights, industrial designs and trade secrets” (IP/C/W/666). As such, the recommendations submitted by South Africa are cross-field as they also touch upon the production and distribution of essential medical devices such as masks, ventilators, personal protective equipment.

Though proposed out of the noble motives, South African communication is ignorant of the need to protect IP rights instead of eroding them. Opponents of intellectual property rights often make the mistake of taking innovation for granted thereby turning a blind eye to the driving force of every kind of entrepreneurship: economic incentives. Patents and various other forms of intellectual property are not biased towards the inventor. On the contrary, they ensure that companies can continue to innovate and deliver on their products to consumers. 

The short-term result of eroding intellectual property rights would be increased access to innovations, but in the long-term, there would be no innovation. With the second wave of coronavirus on the way putting brakes on the economic recovery, it is not something we can afford.

In fact, we need to stay as firm as ever in our defence of intellectual property rights if we want to defeat coronavirus and many more diseases. Patients who may one day be diagnosed with incurable diseases such as Alzheimer’s, Cystic Fibrosis, Diabetes, or HIV/AIDS should benefit from the chance that a cure will become available, and protecting IP is the only way to give them that chance. If we act boldly now and weaken intellectual property rights even further – and expand the scope of TRIPS flexibilities – we will cause the damage that will be hardly reversible, and the post-pandemic world will have to foot the bill.

As the former Czech Prime Minister, Jan Fischer pointed out, “Patents and other intellectual property protections enshrine the incentives that compel drug companies to take such extraordinary risks. By temporarily barring copycat products, the rules give innovators an opportunity to try and recoup their huge development costs. A substantial portion of the revenues achieved from the sale of those innovative drugs are dedicated to fund new projects, and enable the pursuit of path-breaking R&D in the first place.”

If we want more prosperity for all, we need to protect intellectual property rights. TRIPS flexibilities, and the call to extend their scope beyond patens, in particular, are an attempt to erode IP, and should be seen for what they really are: a threat to our economic recovery from COVID-19 and future innovation.

By Maria Chaplia, European Affairs Associate at the Consumer Choice Center

Scrapping Public Health England should only be the beginning

Scrapping Public Health England, a body with the ambition of nannying every Brit, is a significant step towards enhancing personal responsibility and allowing greater freedom. But there’s much further to go.

The UK government should drastically change its approach to healthcare and lifestyle regulations to create an enduring change. With 320,000 confirmed cases of Covid-19 across the country and close to 41,000 dead, there is an urgent need to find a scapegoat. PHE is problematic for many reasons, but it is hardly the root of the UK’s failed Covid response. Enormous centralisation and bureaucracy, on the other hand, are what the UK government needs to do away with. The response to the pandemic gives us clear examples.

It took the UK over six weeks to catch up with other developed countries’ testing capabilities. Germany’s decentralised and private laboratory network had already tested over two per cent of its population while the UK had tested a meagre 0.7 per cent. Britain’s centralised testing system, and its failure to scale up Covid-19 tests, might help explain part of the mortality gap between the two countries.

Testing, as we have learned, should be decentralised, which makes it more easily accessible to all groups of the population. The US government failed to stop the pandemic early on for a similar reason. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA)’s initial regulations prevented state and private labs from developing their own coronavirus diagnostic tests.

During the crucial weeks of February and March, it was only possible to get tested for Covid-19 in the US at the Centre for Disease and Control (CDC). The consequences were devastating. As a result of a massive shortage of tests, many undetected cases speeded up the spread of Covid. On 29 February, the US government allowed private labs to begin developing their own tests.

On 16 March, the procedure was decentralised further, making it possible for commercial manufacturers to distribute and labs to use new commercially developed before obtaining an FDA’s Emergency Use Authorisation (EUA). Not long after the red tape had been cut, private labs went on developing tests that were notably more effective, allowing many more people to get tested.

The centralisation at the NHS has also contributed to its vulnerability towards external shocks such as Covid-19. Decentralised hospital systems that promote private competition and patient choice have proven to be much more resilient, as Germany’s system demonstrates.

With that in mind, introducing more market mechanisms in the NHS would not mean that patients would be denied care – you can have universal healthcare in a social insurance model too. Having more private hospitals does not necessarily lead to fewer hospital beds, but a better allocation of skills and resources. Indeed, it allowed Germany to scale up its ICU capacity, as well as keeping services such as cancer treatments and screenings open in different locations.

Another reason not to get overjoyed about the season finale of the Public Health England’s reign is that it would continue to deal with the agency’s other non-Covid public health work, such as obesity policy, until the spring. Boris has set out to introduce radical anti-obesity measures, and there is every reason to expect the PHE will contribute its most poisonous ideas to that debate. One last time.

While free-marketers like me have been cheering the fall of the PHE with sugary milkshakes and burgers, health secretary Matt Hancock announced that nannying will be “embedded right across government… and in the work of every single local authority. We will use this moment to consult widely on how we can embed health improvement more deeply across the board.”

Even without PHE, we need to look at health issues, such as obesity, through the prism of innovation, education and personal responsibility. PHE’s better health marketing campaign to promote a healthy lifestyle is just one part of Boris’ anti-obesity approach, which tells us that even without institutions such as PHE, nannying will likely continue to flourish. That’s where we need a fundamental mindset change, not just an institutional one.

Abolishing old agencies and setting up new ones often gives the impression that such actions will have a positive lasting impact on our lives. Unfortunately, that is not always the case. While it is tempting to think that merely putting an end to the PHE will help make the UK better prepared for health crises, it is naive, to say the least. Neither will it move the needle away from paternalism. But it’s a great start!

Originally published here.


The Consumer Choice Center is the consumer advocacy group supporting lifestyle freedom, innovation, privacy, science, and consumer choice. The main policy areas we focus on are digital, mobility, lifestyle & consumer goods, and health & science.

The CCC represents consumers in over 100 countries across the globe. We closely monitor regulatory trends in Ottawa, Washington, Brussels, Geneva and other hotspots of regulation and inform and activate consumers to fight for #ConsumerChoice. Learn more at consumerchoicecenter.org

In Kamala Harris, do consumers have an ally or a foe?

This week, Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden revealed Sen. Kamala Harris of California as his running mate for the November general election against President Donald Trump.

Because Harris’ influence on the Biden campaign will loom large, and be important to whomever American voters choose in the fall, it’s worth looking at some of her ideas and policies and how they would have an impact on consumers.

Let’s take a dip, shall we?

HEALTHCARE

On her original presidential campaign website and throughout the Democratic primary debates, Harris was adamant about banning private healthcare insurance in favor of a Medicare For All plan. She later backed out once she was questioned by party activists.

With that in mind, considering Biden was nominated to be his party’s candidate on a platform of not seeking Medicare For All, a plan to expand the government health insurance program to seniors to the entire population, it seems there may be healthy disagreement on this point.

As I’ve written in a few outlets, the idea of a Medicare For All health insurance system would rob consumers of competition and choice, and likely lead to less quality of healthcare than we actually receive. It would mean that healthcare decisions would be placed in a complex hierarchy of bureaucratic agencies immune from market forces. That would inevitably lead to higher costs overall – no matter who foots the bill.

Harris being on the ticket doesn’t mean M4All is now on the docket for the Democratic Party, but it does mean that ideas about the government reorganizing health insurance will certainly be a part of a potential Biden Administration in the future. That’ll be something to keep an eye on.

TECH

As we covered during the debates in 2019, Sen. Harris petitioned Twitter to remove President Donald Trump from its service. Those calls weren’t central to her rhetoric on tech regulations, but they at least revealed her mindset regarding content on social media platforms, and who should be allowed to have an account. In some speeches, she’s come out as more hawkish on online censorship, which should good everyone worry.

Unlike some of her past primary opponents, she was rather soft on the question of antitrust and whether the tech giants in Silicon Valley should be broken up, which is a relief for consumers.

Most of the animus against tech companies has very little to do with concern for consumers, and much more to do with the new generation of gatekeepers using technology and innovation to provide better services. Most consumers prefer these new innovations and want them to thrive, not be broken up.

For some observers, her political career in California and proximity to tech firms mean she’ll be an asset rather than a liability on future tech regulation. The outlet Marketwatch dubbed her a “friend, not a foe, of Big Tech” and the Wall Street Journal similarly gave her praise, though with some caution.

VAPING

What isn’t a surprise to listeners of Consumer Choice Radio is that Sen. Harris is no friend of vaping and harm-reducing innovations.

She penned a letter last year accusing the FDA of being soft on vaping and for not banning all vaping products outright. That would have been disastrous for the former smokers who rely on these products.

She took it a step further by linking legal nicotine vaping products to the bootleg THC vaping devices that caused lung injuries throughout 2019, which we’ve debunked in our own work at the Consumer Choice Center.

If Harris’ worldview remains the same, vapers won’t have a friend in the potential future VP.

CANNABIS

And lastly, we come to cannabis, a favorite topic of those who dub Harris “The Cop Who Wants to be (Vice) President,” like Elizabeth Nolan Brown of Reason.

During Harris’ time as a prosecutor in California, her reputation as an anti-cannabis voice was well-known.

But as our friends at Marijuana Moment mention, she’s changed her mind over the years, from being a staunch opponent to advocate:

Though she coauthored an official voter guide argument opposing a California cannabis legalization measure as a prosecutor in 2010 and laughed in the face of a reporter who asked her about the issue in 2014, she went on to sponsor legislation to federally deschedule marijuana in 2019.

Where Vice Presidential Candidate Kamala Harris Stands On Marijuana

Since dropping her campaign to be president, she’s become more vocal, making the argument for legalizing cannabis at the federal level, though she’s

Overall, there’s a lot to digest on a potential Kamala Harris Vice Presidency. On behalf of consumers, let’s hope there’s more good than bad.

Think of the children! How to find cures for rare and children diseases.

The European Commission just published a working document assessing the EU’s orphan and pediatric drug strategies. Read here why incentives for research are key to extending patients’ lives:

A rare disease is a medical condition that meets the criteria defined in Article 3 of Regulation (EC) No 141/2000; a life-threatening or chronically debilitating condition affecting no more than 5 in 10,000 persons in the EU. Although so-called rare diseases affect a limited number of people per disease, collectively they affect one person in every 17 people within Europe. There are over 7,000 different rare diseases patients suffer from.

Regulators see an ‘imbalance of risk and reward’ for the industry to find cures and treatments for those diseases. Hence US, Japanese and EU regulators increased options for longer market exclusivity for drugs tackling diseases in children and rare diseases. In 2000, Regulation (EC) No 141/2000 and  2006 Regulation (EC) No 1901/2006 were adopted by the European Commission. The ‘standard’ incentives provided by the general legislative framework for pharmaceuticals in the EU are 10 years of market protection and 20 years of patent protection. For pediatric and orphan drugs manufacturers can apply for extended market exclusivity.

The purpose of this strategy is to improve and expedite patients’ access to safe and affordable medicines and to support innovation in the EU pharmaceutical industry. Adding prolonged exclusivity worked: A massive increase in orphan drugs could be seen in the last 20 years! Between 2012 and 2017 over three times as many orphan drugs entered the EU compared to 2000-2005. The EU Commission estimated that between 200,000 and 440,000 additional quality-adjusted life years were gained thanks to more incentives for these drugs.

Added IP Protection for Orphan Drugs correlates with more drugs entering the market

Voices who call now for less protection of orphan and pediatric drugs want to undo the successes of the last two decades. The 142 orphan medicines authorized between 2000 and 2017 have helped up to 6.3 million patients in the EU to either cure or cope with their health conditions.

But there are still millions of patients waiting for a breakthrough that can help to treat their rare or pediatric disease – For this, we need to have incentives and not populism. Intellectual property is key in allowing the inventor and her investors to reward them for their massive risk they undertook in trying to find a cure or treatment for a rare disease. The EU’s approach to orphan and pediatric drugs by increasing incentives for inventors and manufacturers has worked. The successes of the past 20 years should not be undermined by populist calls to nationalize research and IP. If we care about patients with rare diseases, we should not question the importance of protecting intellectual property but see it as a precondition for future innovations.

To sum it up: Think of the children and allow medical innovation to take place!

Consumer Choice Center Joins Coalition Opposed To Most Favored Nation Drug Pricing Proposal

Dear President Trump:

On behalf of the undersigned federal and state-based organizations, we write to express our grave concerns with the “most favored nation” (MFN) executive order to impose foreign price controls on American medicines.

This proposal will impose an “International Pricing Index” on drugs in Medicare Part B, tying the U.S. prices for these medicines to the prices in foreign countries, most of which have government-set prices established in socialized medicine systems.

Adopting these price controls will slow medical innovation, threaten American jobs, and undermine criticism of single-payer systems. In addition, a United States embrace of price controls will make it immeasurably more difficult to get foreign countries to pay their own way in the development of new medicines.

Your administration has repeatedly stood strong against a government-takeover of healthcare. In fact, in your 2020 State of the Union Address, you promised that “we will never let socialism destroy American health care.”

We applaud your strong stance – socialized healthcare policies proposed by some leading presidential candidates would require trillions of dollars in tax increases, would destroy medical progress, and would end healthcare plans used by 180 million Americans.

Unfortunately, an MFN policy would adopt the same socialist healthcare policies that you have promised to fight against.

Not only does this undermine the broader effort to fight against the government takeover of health care, it will also have disastrous consequences to the economy and healthcare system.

The U.S. is the best in the world when it comes to developing innovative, lifesaving and life preserving medicines. Because of this, the U.S. is leading the way when it comes to developing COVID-19 vaccines, with several promising candidates entering the final stages of testing and clinical trials.

In contrast, foreign countries have been free riding off this American medical innovation for decades through crushing price controls and other market-distorting government rules and regulations.

Adopting foreign price controls will result in the same negative outcomes to our healthcare system as those overseas—less medical innovation leading to fewer cures and healthcare shortages for American patients.

Adopting price controls through an MFN will also harm the U.S. economy because of a decline in American research and development. Medical innovation directly or indirectly supports 4 million jobs and $1.1 trillion in total economic impact, which will be threatened by importing price controls.

An MFN does nothing to fight foreign free riding of American innovation. Although supporters of MFN have claimed the concept will incentivize manufacturers to negotiate better deals, this theory is based on the flawed assumption that American manufacturers were not fighting as hard as they could against foreign price controls in past years. In addition, an American adoption of these same policies renders any future criticism of them incredibly challenging.

Moving forward, we need policies that further encourage American innovation through tax and trade policies, such as renegotiated trade deals, a competitive business tax system and a more competitive environment.

As President, you have championed vital changes in tax and regulatory policies that have allowed free market innovation to flourish. We believe a market-based approach like those that your administration has consistently supported in other policy areas will lead to economic growth and promising new treatments but adopting price controls through the MFN plan would undermine rather than build on those successes. In short, if the MFN executive order is implemented it will have disastrous consequences for both American healthcare and the American economy.

Sincerely,

Grover Norquist
President, Americans for Tax Reform

Saulius “Saul” Anuzis
President, 60 Plus Association

Jim Martin
Founder/Chairman, 60 Plus
Association

Marty Connors
Leader, Alabama Center-Right
Coalition

Bethany Marcum
Executive Director, Alaska Policy
Forum

Phil Kerpen
President, American Commitment

Daniel Schneider
Executive Director, American
Conservative Union

Dee Stewart
President, Americans for a
Balanced Budget

Richard Manning
President, Americans for Limited
Government

Brent Wm. Gardner
Chief Government Affairs Officer,
Americans for Prosperity

Lisa B. Nelson
CEO, ALEC

Michael Bowman
President, ALEC Action

Kevin Waterman
Chair, Annapolis Center-Right
Coalition Meeting (Maryland)

Robert Alt
President and CEO, The Buckeye Institute

Rabbi Aryeh Spero
President, Caucus for America

Ryan Ellis
President, Center for a Free Economy

Andrew F. Quinlan
President, Center for Freedom and Prosperity

Jeffrey Mazzella
President, Center for Individual Freedom

Ginevra Joyce-Myers
Executive Director, Center for Innovation and Free Enterprise

Peter Pitts
President, Center for Medicine in the Public Interest

John Hinderaker
President, Center of the American Experiment

Thomas Schatz
President, Citizens Against Government Waste

Leo Knepper
CEO, Citizens Alliance of Pennsylvania

Donald Bryson
President & CEO, Civitas Institute

Regina Thomson
President, Colorado Issues Coalition

Gregory Conko
Senior Fellow, Competitive Enterprise Institute

James Edwards
Executive Director, Conservatives for Property Rights

Matthew Kandrach
President, Consumer Action for a Strong Economy

Fred Roeder
Health Economist/Managing Director, Consumer Choice Center

Yaël Ossowski
Deputy Director, Consumer Choice Center

Joel White
President, Council for Affordable Health Coverage

Katie McAuliffe
Executive Director, Digital Liberty

Robert Roper
President, Ethan Allen Institute

Adam Brandon
President, FreedomWorks

Annette Meeks
CEO, Freedom Foundation of Minnesota

George Landrith
President, Frontiers of Freedom

Grace Marie-Turner
President, Galen Institute
(organization listed for affiliation purposes only)

Ray Chadwick,
Chairman, Granite State Taxpayers

Naomi Lopez
Director of Healthcare Policy, Goldwater Institute

Mario H. Lopez
President, Hispanic Leadership Fund

Carrie Lukas
President, Independent Women’s Forum

Heather R. Higgins
CEO, Independent Women’s Voice

Andrew Langer
President, Institute for Liberty

Tom Giovanetti
President, Institute for Policy Innovation

Sal Nuzzo
Vice President of Policy, James Madison Institute

Amy Oliver Cooke
CEO, John Locke Foundation

Drew Cline
President, Josiah Bartlett Center for Public Policy

Seton Motley
President, Less Government

Jay Fisher
Immediate Past Chairman, Lisle Township Republican Organization

Doug McCullough
Director, Lone Star Policy Institute

Lindsay Killen
Vice President for Strategic Outreach, Mackinac Center for Public Policy

Brett Healy
President, The John K. MacIver Institute for Public Policy

Matt Gagnon
President, Maine Policy Institute

Charles Sauer
President, Market Institute

Dee Hodges
President, Maryland Taxpayers Association, Inc

Gene Clem
Spokesman, Michigan Tea Party Alliance

Jameson Taylor, Ph.D.
Vice President for Policy, Mississippi Center for Public Policy

Tim Jones
Chair, Missouri Center-Right Coalition
Fmr. Speaker, Missouri House

David A. Ridenour
President, National Center for Public Policy Research

Everett Wilkinson
Chairman, National Liberty Federation

Pete Sepp
President, National Taxpayers Union

John Tsarpalas
President, Nevada Policy Research Institute

Scott Pullins
Founder, Ohio Taxpayers Association

Doug Kellogg
Executive Director, Ohioans for Tax Reform

Sally Pipes
President and CEO, Pacific Research Institute

Ellen Weaver
President & CEO, Palmetto Promise Institute

Daniel Erspamer
Chief Executive Officer, Pelican Institute for Public Policy

Ed Martin
President, Phyllis Schlafly Eagles

Lorenzo Montanari
Executive Director, Property Rights Alliance

Stone Washington
Member, Project 21

Paul J. Gessing
President, Rio Grande Foundation

Bette Grande
President & CEO, Roughrider Policy Center

James L. Setterlund
Executive Director, Shareholder Advocacy Forum

Karen Kerrigan
President & CEO, Small Business & Entrepreneurship Council

Paul E. Vallely, Major General, US Army (ret)
Chairman, Stand Up America US Foundation

Richard Watson
Chair, Tallahassee Center-Right Coalition

David Williams
President, Taxpayers Protection Alliance

Sara Croom
Executive Director, Trade Alliance to Promote Prosperity

C. Preston Noell III
President, Tradition, Family, Property, Inc.

Lynn Taylor
President, Virginia Institute for Public Policy

Gene Editing, Pandemi Corona, dan Perlindungan Hak Paten

Ketika Anda mendengar istilah gene editing, apa yang terlintas di benak Anda?

Ada kemungkinan, hal pertama yang terlintas di pikiran Anda adalah berbagai pahlawan super yang hadir di berbagai film Hollywood. Spiderman, Hulk, X-Men, dan Fantastic Four merupakan beberapa tokoh superhero yang mendapat kemampuan super karena susunan genetik di dalam tubuh mereka berubah dan bermutasi.

Gene editing memang merupakan salah satu hal paling populer yang dieksplorasi oleh para pembuat film Hollywood, khususnya film-film fiksi ilmiah. Gene editing telah membuka pintu kreativitas yang sangat lebar bagi para pembuat film, yang telah memukau miliaran penonton di seluruh dunia.

Namun, teknologi gene editing sendiri bukanlah sesuatu yang hanya hadir di film-film fiksi ilmiah, namun juga di dunia nyata tempat kita tinggal, yang memiliki potensi untuk menyelamatkan nyawa jutaan manusia. Gene editing sendiri merupakan salah satu bentuk rekayasa genetika, di mana susunan DNA di dalam genom organisme diubah dan dimodifikasi.

Gene editing memiliki potensi yang sangat besar untuk mengatasi dan mencegah terjadinya berbagai penyakit kronis yang dialami oleh jutaan orang di seluruh dunia. Dan di tengah pandemi Corona saat ini, gene editing merupakan salah satu teknik yang digunakan oleh ilmuwan dalam membuat vaksin virus tersebut.

Sebagaimana kita ketahui, pandemik Corona saat ini sudah berada di hampir seluruh negara dan teritori di dunia. Setidaknya, virus yang berasal dari kota Wuhan, China, ini telah menginfeksi lebih dari 3 juta jiwa, dan menyebabkan 200.000 lebih orang kehilangan nyawa. Sebagian besar dari mereka yang meninggal adalah orang-orang lanjut usia dan yang memiliki riwayat penyakit.

Pandemi ini sudah merubah total kehidupan sehari-hari milyaran orang di seluruh dunia. Sebagian besar negara memberlakukan kebijakan lockdown total dan memaksa penduduk mereka untuk berdiam di rumah. Jutaan orang kehilangan pekerjaan atas pandemi tersebut, dan ribuan usaha terpaksa ditutup dan gulung tikar.

Vaksin untuk virus Corona tentu merupakan hal yang saat ini sangat mendesak. Tidak mungkin dunia dipaksa berhenti total untuk waktu yang sangat lama. Oleh karena itu, berbagai pemerintahan dan lembaga yayasan di seluruh dunia berlomba-lomba mendanai para ilmuwan untuk menemukan vaksin bagi Covid-19.

Rekayasa genetika sendiri bukanlah sesuatu yang baru. Rekayasa genetika melalui teknik bioteknologi, yang secara langsung mengubah genom organisme, sudah dilakukan sejak dekade 1970-an. Pakar biokimia asal Amerika Serikat, Paul Berg, adalah ilmuwan pertama yang membuat DNA rekomninan (DNA hasil buatan di laboratorium) dengan mengkombinasikan DNA virus SV40 dan virus Lambda (Jackson, Symons, dan Berg, 1972).

Seiring berjalannya waktu, rekayasa genetika juga terus berkembang. Tidak seperti metode rekayasa genetika pada masa lalu, di mana ilmuwan hanya bisa memasukkan atau menambahkan material genetik tertentu secara acak, gene editing sendiri merupakan salah satu teknik rekayasa genetika yang paling mutakhir. Teknik tersebut memungkinkan ilmuwan untuk mengubah bagian tertentu dari susunan genom organisme secara akurat (Smithsonian Magazine, 2019).

Ilmuwan dari North Carolina State University, Rodolphe Barrangou, menulis dalam jurnalnya bahwa, salah satu teknik gene editing yang saat ini paling berkembang adalah CRISPR gene editing. CRISPR (clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats) merupakan rangkaian DNA yang terdapat di dalam bakteri prokariotik (Barrangou, 2015).

Barrangou menambahkan, rangkaian DNA ini terbentuk dari pecahan DNA bakteri virus yang sebelumnya menginfeksi bakteri prokariotik tersebut. Rangkaian ini berfungsi untuk mendeteksi bila ada virus yang sama yang kembali menginfeksi bakteri tersebut, dan menghancurkan DNA dari virus tersebut, Dengan kata lain, CRISPR merupakan sistem pertahanan yang dimiliki oleh bakteri prokariotik (Barrangou, 2015).

Enzim yang digunakan oleh CRISPR untuk mendeteksi dan menghancurkan DNA virus yang menginfeksi bakteri tersebut adalah Cas9. Pakar genetik menemukan bahwa Cas9 dapat digunakan sebagai alat pendeteksi bila seseorang ingin memodifikasi lokasi tertentu yang spesifik di dalam genom organisme (Esvelt, Smidler, Catteruccia, dan Church, 2014).

Melalui CRISPR gene editing ini berpotensi besar untuk memusnahkan segala bentuk penyakit kronis yang dialami manusia saat ini, seperti kanker dan penyakit genetik lainnya. Teknik ini juga berpotensi besar dapat memperkuat sistem imun yang ada di dalam tubuh manusia (Science Daily, 2019).

Terkait dengan upaya untuk menyelesaikan pendemik Corona, pakar biologi sintesis saat ini sudah dapat membuat beberapa bagian dari virus Corona secara sintesis dengan menggunakan CRISPR. Upaya ini dilakukan untuk menemukan vaksin bagi virus tersebut. Salah satu lembaga yang berperan besar dalam mendanai penelitian tersebut adalah Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (Statnews, 2020).

CRISPR juga dapat digunakan sebagai “mesin pencari” untuk genom spesifik tertentu yang dimiliki oleh virus Corona. Hal ini membantu para peneliti untuk dapat mendeteksi pasien yang terkena virus Corona dengan prosedur yang lebih cepat dan sederhana (Synthego, 2020).

Pandemi Corona saat ini tentu bukanlah pandemi terakhir yang akan dialami oleh manusia. Besar kemungkinan di masa depan, virus ini akan kembali bermutasi dan menjadi virus yang lebih sulit untuk diatasi. Selain itu, di masa depan, tidak mustahil pandemi lain akan muncul dan disebabkan oleh virus atau bakteri dengan jenis yang lain.

Rekayasa genetika merupakan salah satu bidang ilmu pengetahuan yang paling terdepan, yang berpotensi akan membawa banyak manfaat bagi umat manusia. Oleh karena itu, sangat penting bagi kita untuk mendorong penemuan terbaru di bidang bioteknologi dan tidak membatasi melalui serangkaian regulasi sangat ketat yang berpotensi menghambat kemajuan dan merugikan masyarakat yang tidak bisa mengambil manfaat dari hasil temuan tersebut.

Selain itu, perlindungan hak kekayaan intelektual (HAKI) di bidang rekayasa genetika juga sangat penting untuk mendorong kemajuan. Profesor ekonomi dari Universitas California, Berkeley, Brian D. Wright misalnya, menyatakan bahwa perlindungan hak paten terhadap produk rekayasa genetika dapat mendorong inovasi dan kemajuan.

Wright memberi contoh sejak dekade 1980-an, perlindungan hak paten terhadap produk hasil rekayasa genetika di Amerika Serikat semakin menguat. Hal ini membuat bidang rekayasa genetika di negeri Paman Sam tersebut semakin maju dan berkembang, karena berbagai lembaga swasta berlomba-lomba untuk melakukan riset dan menemukan teknik rekayasa genetika yang terbaru (Wright, 2006).

Sebagai penutup, rekayasa genetika, khususnya gene editing, merupakan salah satu bidang ilmu bioteknologi yang paling terdepan untuk saat ini, yang berpotensi besar membawa banyak manfaat kesehatan bagi umat manusia, khususnya di masa pandemi seperti sekarang.

Untuk itu, sangat penting bagi pemerintah agar tidak memberlakukan regulasi yang sangat ketat yang dapat menghambat perkembangan tersebut. Pemerintah juga harus bisa memastikan penegakan atas perlindungan paten terhadap para inovator dan investor yang melakukan riset dan menginvestasikan dana mereka, untuk memastikan insentif dan kompetisi di bidang rekayasa genetika dapat semakin maju dan berkembang.

Originally published here.


The Consumer Choice Center is the consumer advocacy group supporting lifestyle freedom, innovation, privacy, science, and consumer choice. The main policy areas we focus on are digital, mobility, lifestyle & consumer goods, and health & science.

The CCC represents consumers in over 100 countries across the globe. We closely monitor regulatory trends in Ottawa, Washington, Brussels, Geneva and other hotspots of regulation and inform and activate consumers to fight for #ConsumerChoice. Learn more at consumerchoicecenter.org

Perché il Sistema Tedesco Funziona

l servizio sanitario in Germania ha retto molto meglio la pressione della crisi Covid-19 rispetto al quello italiano. Stiamo pagando scelte di spesa e investimenti sbagliati, e una burocratizzazione estrema del sistema ospedaliero. Cosa potrebbe succedere qualora in autunno il virus tornasse con forza?

PERCHÉ È IMPORTANTE   Sia in Italia che in Germania circa lo 0.4% della popolazione è risultato positivo al Coronavirus. Mentre la curva dei contagi sembra seguire la stessa traiettoria, la percentuale di morti su 1000 casi è di 3,5 volte superiore in Italia che in Germania.

Perché? Gli ospedali tedeschi hanno una maggior resistenza in tempo di crisi, grazie ad una forte competizione tra di essi, siano essi pubblici o privati.

TESTARE LA DIFFERENZA   Al contrario di quanto avviene in Italia il governo centrale tedesco, insieme ai lander, ha dato via libera ai laboratori privati ai test e nel momento in cui scriviamo più del 3% della popolazione è stata testata. In Italia invece i test si limitano allo 0.5% della popolazione fermandosi a quota 3 milioni circa di cui la metà nelle regioni di Lombardia, Veneto e Piemonte.

Ricordando che in Germania l’epidemia è iniziata circa 10 giorni dopo rispetto l’Italia possiamo ampiamente notare come il governo a guida Merkel abbia reagito diversamente da quello Italiano.

CENTRALISMO VS. FEDERALISMO   Infatti non solo in Germania sono i cittadini a decidere se fare il test e dove, ma il governo federale ha anche istituito grazie al supporto di aziende private, i cosiddetti laboratori drive in dove i tamponi vengono fatti direttamente dal finestrino dell’auto.

In Italia al contrario si è deciso per centralizzare tutto in alcuni laboratori statali, e seguendo le direttive OMS, si è deciso di fare i tamponi solo ai soggetti fortemente sintomatici (fatta eccezione per il Veneto dove invece il governo locale ha deciso di testare tutta la popolazione sia essa sintomatica o meno), portando questi laboratori al quasi totale collasso.

SPESA PUBBLICA E POSTI LETTO   Ma veniamo ad un’altra domanda che in tanti si chiedono. Come mai abbiamo così pochi posti di terapia intensiva quando la spesa sanitaria è la seconda voce per volume della spesa pubblica dopo le pensioni? ln Germania i posti letto a inizio pandemia erano circa il triplo di quelli Italiani (8,6 ogni 100 mila abitanti in Italia contro i 33,9, tedeschi) arrivando a circa 50.2 letti ogni 100 mila abitanti a inizio Maggio. 

Se si considera che la maggior parte dei posti in terapia intensiva sono nelle regioni del Veneto, Lombardia, Piemonte ed Emilia Romagna (circa 3600 su un totale di 9200) si può ampiamente dire che una buona parte dell’Italia è quasi completamente scoperta.

Il motivo di questa scelta è da vedersi nelle scelte dei governi degli ultimi 10 anni in cui si è deciso di investire sul welfare più che sulla cura della persona, e dove si è deciso di non copiare i modelli del nord d’Italia ma di proseguire una politica dedicata a sussidi pubblici ad enti burocratici non funzionanti.

UN PAESE A RISCHIO   L’emergenza è passata e ora c’è da chiedersi siamo pronti per una nuova ondata, che molti esperti dicono arriverà in autunno. Siamo attrezzati per una nuova pandemia?

La risposta è no. Dobbiamo lasciare i privati investire, seguire il modello lombardo di organizzazione sanitaria, che in tanti criticano ma che ha resistito ad uno tsunami, e aggiungere il campionamento a tappeto fatto in Veneto. Bisogna insomma riformare la nostra sanità in stile tedesco, lasciando spazio ai privati di fare competizione al pubblico, senza mai dimenticarsi il principio di universalità del sistema sanitario nazionale.

È necessario riformare il nostro sistema e farlo alla svelta, i modelli vincenti ci sono. Sarà la nostra classe politica pronta a fare questa riforma oppure sarà ancora schiava di logiche clientelari?


The Consumer Choice Center is the consumer advocacy group supporting lifestyle freedom, innovation, privacy, science, and consumer choice. The main policy areas we focus on are digital, mobility, lifestyle & consumer goods, and health & science.

The CCC represents consumers in over 100 countries across the globe. We closely monitor regulatory trends in Ottawa, Washington, Brussels, Geneva and other hotspots of regulation and inform and activate consumers to fight for #ConsumerChoice. Learn more at consumerchoicecenter.org

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