Sprouse

By VIC SPROUSE

CHARLESTON -- The prescription drug issue is a perfect example of government spinning its wheels while private sector decisions actually make headway into a serious problem in our society.

Example? The Charleston Gazette's editorial of Nov. 16 once again whines about the state's "cost management council."

The Gazette and Dan Foster lament about how the government council set-up to lower drug costs is now only meeting every so often and how, oh how, if we just had "disclosure," i.e. drug reps telling the world how much a lunch they provided for a local doctor's office set them back, then our state government would be able to lower drug costs.

I am sorry, but when I read these Gazette editorials, I go through the roof.

This "Cost Council" that was set-up at the behest of Dan Foster and Bob Kiss is a perfect example of government silliness.

It has been set up now for three years and what has it accomplished? Zilch.

And why? Well, because there has been a constant battle over whether or not drug reps should have to disclose their expenditures on marketing their products.

The simple question here is ... if drug reps actually did disclose every dollar they spent on marketing, would the cost of drugs our citizens purchase come down?

Of course not and the Gazette and the legislators pushing for it know it.

Who cares about freakin' "disclosure" when the cost of drugs are massive and when the lowly drug rep's expenditures amount to a hill of beans in the research, manufacture, and marketing of life-saving drugs?

I don't care and the vast majority of people don't care how much a lunch at a local doctor's office cost. Period.

But, it's great press for Kiss, House Health Chairman Don Perdue, and Foster, and it gives the Gazette something to rail about. But, borrowing the phrase used often by Jon Amores and Hoppy Kercheval, it's the "shiny bobble" that everyone is focused on when it doesn't amount to anything.

Wal-mart, in one fell swoop and with a single private sector decision, will allow our citizens to save more on drugs than any "Cost Management" government-loving council will ever do.

To the libs and the Gazette, if only we had a government solution, the world would be better.

So, to much fanfare and ticker-tape parades, Bob Kiss and the rest of the Democrats set-up a -- get this -- government council to lower drug costs.

Three years later (and article after article and editorial after editorial) the government council and Kiss are still fighting over disclosure requirements.

In one month, Wal-mart announces it will start selling generic drugs for $4 a perscription and -- ka-plow-ee! -- in one move they have saved more money for West Virginias than a government council did in three years of senseless bickering over the shiny bobble of disclosure.

But, hey, it's great press for the Democrats and it does show how much their care about us. If we could only get those rascally drug reps with their catered lunches of Subway sandwiches to do the same.

After all, if we cut out ALL the Subway platters, I'm sure the that would allow the drug companies who invested years of research, planning, and production into a drug to lower the price, right?

Sprouse is a Republican state Senator from Kanawha County. To find more of his writings, check out his blog at www.changewv.com.

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