AMA to study drug price controls

NEWS IN BRIEF — Posted Jan. 5, 2004

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The American Medical Association will study the possibility of suggesting legislation that would create government-negotiated price reductions for pharmaceuticals, according to action taken at the organization's Interim Meeting in Honolulu last month.

The proposal was referred to the Board of Trustees for further investigation because the legislation would essentially call for price controls on drugs -- which is contrary to the AMA's long-standing tradition of supporting market-based solutions. Some physicians, however, believe that patient care is being hampered by high drug prices and that a solution must be found, particularly since the recent approval of a Medicare drug benefit.

"This really needs to be looked at," said orthopedic surgeon Peter Lavine, MD, a Washington, D.C., delegate. "We need to look into allowing Medicare to negotiate with drug companies to buy in bulk and reimportation to make drugs cheaper, because when they're looking for money to pay for the new Medicare drug benefit, which is totally unaffordable, physicians are going to be on the chopping block."

Note: This item originally appeared at

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