Medical costs, and especially drug costs, are scandalously high in the US, but just capping them isn't the answer, biotech exec Samuel Waksal writes in the New York Times. "Individuals and insurance companies should be willing to pay—and pay a lot—for drugs when they work," he argues. "The problem is we’re also paying for drugs when they don’t." His solution: Patients should only pay for drugs when they actually prove effective for them.
Many drugs, Waksal explains, work very well for some patient groups, and not at all for others. The pay-if-it-works scheme "would push drug companies to figure out why certain patients don't respond to treatment and what to do about it," and shift the industry "away from the pervasive trend of developing 'me too' drugs" that are just like other therapies, and focus instead on tailored drugs for specific patient groups. It would encourage innovation even as it cut waste. "This is the future of biotechnology."