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Opinion
Max Nisen

Look in the Mirror, America, to See a Reason Drug Prices Are So High

Until we are willing to accept the trade-offs and sacrifices needed to fix the system, the status quo will persist.

Americans have come to expect unfettered access to an ever-expanding roster of effective medicines.

Americans have come to expect unfettered access to an ever-expanding roster of effective medicines.

Photographer: Chris Ratcliffe/Bloomberg

The idea of bringing down U.S. drug prices is universally popular. The hard choices, trade-offs and political fortitude needed to actually do it, however, are a harder sell. So here we are, with a drug-pricing plan so toothless that biotech shares soared as it was unveiled by President Donald Trump on Friday afternoon. 

No one likes the thought of life-saving medicines with price tags of tens of thousands of dollars or more. But the fact is, Americans have come to expect unfettered access to an ever-expanding roster of effective medicines, without having to pay a lot for it. The current system enables this through generous tax-exempt employer health coverage, Medicare, and programs from drugmakers that help with out-of-pocket expenses.