It’s a subject that has been debated for a while now, and yet there seems to be no real solution in sight. Why is the cost of healthcare in the USA spiraling out of control and going further out of the reach of the average citizen? Why do people find themselves without insurance all of a sudden even though they’ve been paying all their premiums on time and in full? Why are premiums raised for no practical reason and without any real explanation? The answers to these companies from the insurance companies is that they’re forced to hike rates because the cost of healthcare has gone up – from medicines to doctor fees to hospital stays, they’ve all become much more expensive.

The rumblings are becoming louder now, about how the drug companies are making millions while the general public suffers without access to healthcare and essential drugs. The patents that protect drugs from being copied and mass produced by generic pharmaceutical manufacturers are being perceived as fronts for the drug companies to rake in the dough while the going is good. This prohibitive pricing is what is making healthcare expensive, according to certain sections of society.

Medical patents generally hold good for 20 years, but if you take into account the clinical trials and the testing period, they’re valid for about seven or eight years from the time the drug enters the market and is available for public consumption. It takes a year or two for doctors to prescribe it on a regular basis and people to begin trusting it. So in effect, a drug company has around five years to recoup the losses incurred in the research and development of a new drug.

It’s a vicious cycle that seems impossible to break out of – if big pharma companies gave up their patents, the cost of drugs would be much cheaper since the market would be flooded with generic equivalents. Insurance costs would come down, and most people could afford decent healthcare. But then, if the pharmaceutical companies cannot make enough money off the new drug and instead incur severe losses, would they be willing to sponsor and support new clinical trials and research that lead to the manufacture of live-saving and life-altering medications and procedures?

It’s a conundrum that the experts seem unwilling to answer; and even as blame is laid at the feet of the patents that protect the drugs and how drug companies exploit every loophole in the book to prolong their patent period, nothing concrete is being done by the government to fund new research and development initiatives in the field of medicine. Until such a day comes, patents are going to be valid, drug costs are going to soar until they run out, and the cost of healthcare is going to keep climbing with no respite in sight.

This guest post is contributed by Kathy Wilson, who writes on the topic of X-Ray Tech Schools . She welcomes your comments at her email id:

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  4. Though I view this as a good thing- since it forces the drug companies a little away of ‘chronic’ drugs that relieve but don’t cure and are continually taken for life- a compromise can be reached by, for instance, giving the drug companies 20 years from the moment they start selling the medicine, or (without extending the monopoly) if the new ‘generic’ companies are required by state law to pay half of their profits to the previous buyers (NOT these that owned the patent) and compensate them for the price they had to pay. Anyway, you shouldn’t give the monopoly even more power, that doesn’t solve anything. Things were really alright if there was a competition and not one body that determines the price and takes advantage of desperate people.