Skip to main content
Prescription drug costs image by TaxRebate.org.uk via Flickr

Public Pharmaceuticals As An Antidote to Big Pharma’s Market Failure

Dana Brown

Dana Brown

Director of the Next System Project more

Health & Wellbeing

Drug-resistant “superbugs” are predicted to kill more people per year than cancer by 2050. It’s a problem that’s increasingly seen as a threat to national security, with potential consequences for trade, global development and even counterterrorism.

It’s also a problem that the pharmaceutical industry is unwilling to make the investments to address, because, they say, there is no market incentive to do so.

In an article today for The American Prospect, I argue that given this “bad case of market-incentive syndrome, it is time to consider the establishment of public pharmaceutical companies as an antidote.”

The federal government has already tried all of the traditional forms of persuasion to entice pharmaceutical companies to pour more research and development money, the article says, but the strategy has failed. The crux of the issue: “the industry’s increasingly financialized business model, which puts profits over people.”

Ensuring that the public has access to next-generation antibiotics and other life-saving drugs would require severing the tie between R&D costs and sales volume, what’s referred to in the industry as “delinkage.” “The ultimate form of delinkage would be to take the development and production of medicines like these into public hands and out of the market entirely,” I write. “What’s more, Americans across the political spectrum already support the idea of a public option in pharmaceuticals.”

You can read the full article at The American Prospect.

Dana Brown

Dana Brown

Director of the Next System Project more

More related work

Pharmaceutical products on shelves

Medicine For All: The Case for a Public Option in the Pharmaceutical Industry

Democratic, public ownership of pharmaceutical development, production, and distribution in the U.S. is necessary to combat the increasingly harmful impacts of Big Pharma which decades of regulation have failed to counteract. read more
A satellite view of the US at night

The Index of Systemic Trends

One of the signs that a crisis is systemic, rather than purely political or economic, is that key indicators decline or stay the same regardless of changes in political power or business cycles. This first edition of the Index of Systemic Trends is an effort to quantify, track, and visualize this crisis. It shows the need to move in the direction of a new system that can and will produce better outcomes. read more
Truvada pills

The US should be producing the HIV prevention drug its research helped create

We could just about end the spread of HIV if Truvada was affordable to everyone who should be taking it. This is why we need a public option to ensure broad, long-term access to essential medicines. read more