Sen. Rick Scott just introduced a measure that threatens to destroy America’s status as the world’s top medical innovator.

His bill would force drug companies to index U.S. drug prices to those demanded by foreign governments. The nations Sen. Scott selected — Canada, the United Kingdom, France, Germany, and Japan — employ various price control schemes to keep brand-name drug prices low.

Sen. Scott’s bill has serious consequences. Price controls destroy future medical innovation and restrict patients’ access to medicine. He should put his bill back in the bottle.

The drug development pipeline is rife with failure. Consider that just one in every 1,000 drug compounds that begins pre-clinical trials is ever tested on humans. Of those compounds that make it to human trials, just 10% earn FDA approval.

The chances of success are even lower for drugs targeting the deadliest diseases. Just one in 20 potential cancer treatments in Phase I clinical trials ever reaches patients. And the failure rate of drugs to treat chronic brain disorders, such as Alzheimer’s, is a dismal 99.6%.

Accounting for these risks, companies typically spend more than a decade — and $2.6 billion, on average — to bring a single new medicine to market.

Consequently, convincing investors to pour money into research and development is no easy sell.

But investors are willing to bet on startup biotech companies because they know that in the United States, medical discoveries are fairly valued in the marketplace. Investors are guaranteed a chance of recouping their investment — and, sometimes, profiting.

Unsurprisingly, the United States is the most welcoming market for drug investment. The U.S. biopharmaceutical industry put $90 billion towards R&D in 2016 alone. Indeed, about 7,000 medicines are in various stages of development around the globe — and nearly 60% of those medicines originated in the United States.

American patients benefit greatly from this innovation. Because firms are eager to launch their drugs here first, U.S. patients enjoy access to the newest drugs faster than patients in any other country.

Consider cancer, a disease that currently plagues roughly 15.5 million Americans. When compared to patients in other countries, Americans can start using new cancer medicines two years earlier, on average.

Two years can mean the difference between life and death. It’s no surprise, then, that the United States has the highest five-year cancer survival rates in the world.

Patients in countries with price controls aren’t as lucky. According to a report from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, patients in Canada, the UK, France, Germany and Japan have fewer treatment options than American patients and are regularly denied access to cutting-edge treatments. Yet Sen. Scott wants to copy these nations.

If Sen. Scott succeeds in his effort, American patients will be denied access to the newest treatments — and the world will be denied access to every future breakthrough.

John Nelson of Sebring is an Army veteran who serves as the chairman of The Highlands Tea Party. Guest columns are the opinion of the writer, not necessarily that of the Highlands News-Sun.


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