Inquirer Letters Extra: U.S. drug store open, fully stocked

In reporting on the cost and access to medicine in the United States, it's particularly crucial to get the facts right since patients are impacted ("U.S. consumers pay more for drugs," April 9). Despite misperceptions, spending on medicine has grown at historically low rates for a sustained period.

Medicines are only about 10 percent of all health-care spending, but for that investment, medicines have significantly improved quality and length of life and helped control health care costs by avoiding acute care, such as hospitalizations. And 80 percent of prescriptions filled are generics.

International comparisons can be misleading. The U.S. is based on markets in which very large, powerful purchasers negotiate savings from pharmaceutical companies, not government price fixing. Additionally, the U.S. system rewards innovation - a main reason why biopharmaceutical research and development moved from Europe, where there are price controls. Our system allows patients wider choice and quicker access to new medicines.

Matthew Bennett, senior vice president, Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA), Washington

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