[Marxism] Australia's health care system

Clinton Fernandes cfer at deakin.edu.au
Mon Nov 29 13:34:09 MST 2004

The recent US-Australia negotiations on a "free trade agreement" were held up by Washington's concern over Australia's health care system, perhaps the most efficient in the world. In particular, drug prices are a fraction of those in the US: the same drugs, produced by the same companies, earning substantial profits in Australia though nothing like those they are granted in the US - often on the pretext that they are needed for R&D, another exercise in deceit. Part of the reason for the efficiency of the Australian system is that, like other countries, Australia relies on the practices that the Pentagon employs when it buys paper clips: government purchasing power is used to negotiate prices, illegal in the US. Another reason is that Australia has kept to "evidence-based" procedures for marketing pharmaceuticals. US negotiators denounced these as market interference: pharmaceutical corporations are deprived of their legitimate rights if they are required to produce evidence when they claim that their latest product is better than some cheaper alternative, or run TV ads in which some sports hero or model tells the audience to ask their doctor whether this drug is "right for you (it's right for me)," sometimes not even revealing what it is supposed to be for. 


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