Could public support make drug R&D more efficient?

Dean Baker at the Center for Economic Policy and Research has an idea for a radically new approach to drug discovery: Pay private firms with public money to do drug testing in exchange for lower Medicare prices.

"Removing the conflict of interest inherent in the current system of clinical trials and bringing drug prices closer to marginal costs would eliminate much of the inefficiency of the current system," Baker opines. Drug developers wouldn't feel inclined to push me-too therapies to retrieve R&D costs and the new system would do away with big pharma companies hiding negative data. Trials would end up cheaper and be completed more quickly as data would be instantly available.  

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