From Dr. Scott Dr. Gottlieb, a practicing physician and a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute.
Pfizer recently said it's exiting the development of drugs for common conditions like heart disease. This is part of a shift underway in the pharmaceutical industry to give up on routine medical problems in favor of discovering "specialty" drugs for rare diseases and unmet medical needs like cancer.
The shift is driven in part by the industry's critics in Washington, who have long maligned drug companies for targeting too many routine medical problems with drugs that were "merely" tweaks on existing medicines. Now these same detractors, led by House Democrats, are proposing controls on access to and eventually pricing of the specialty drugs as well. Under a Barack Obama presidency, this is one way they'll pay for the candidate's plan to create a Medicare-like program for the under-65 crowd. These new controls -- based on a view of medical care as a commodity to be purchased at the lowest price, with little allowance for innovation -- could push drug development over a tipping point.
Mr. Obama's policies on drug access and his party's plans to control pricing will distort the financial incentives that inspire innovations. This will shortchange the contributions innovations provide.