Profitable pharma industry shouldn't get incentives to do the right thing

LETTER — Posted May 8, 2006

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Regarding "Incentives urged to spur antibiotic development," (Article, March 20): So the Infectious Diseases Society of America is urging Congress to provide financial incentives to the pharmaceutical industry to develop antibiotics for emerging resistant pathogens. The obvious question is, why?

Big Pharma is [among] the most profitable industries in America. Why at a time of massive federal deficits does this industry need a taxpayer-funded bribe to do its job? Congress should simply reduce the immense tax breaks the pharmaceutical industry currently enjoys until it applies sufficient attention to new antibiotic development.

Here's another modest proposal: If 17 to 20 years of exclusive patent rights aren't enough incentive for Big Pharma, the National Institutes of Health should directly oversee the research and production of new antibiotics and sell them at cost.

Geoffrey Wittig, MD, Dansville, N.Y.

Note: This item originally appeared at http://www.ama-assn.org/amednews/2006/05/08/edlt0508.htm.

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