In addition, drug prices need to come down, McNeely said. "You can sever the link between physicians' prescription practices and the incredible amount of marketing dollars that the pharmaceutical industry is pouring into influencing physicians' decisions," he said.
In 2005, pharmaceutical companies spent $11.5 billion in advertising their most expensive drugs, and total drug advertising dollars increased 250 percent from 1997 to 2007, according to the report.
Drug company marketing increases the total number of prescriptions written and increases prescriptions for newer, more expensive drugs over older, less expensive drugs that are just as good, the report said.
Cutting costs has to be part of any overall health care reform program, McNeely said. PIRG supports a private-public partnership that provides high-quality, affordable heath care to all.
Health care policy expert Dr. Steffie Woolhandler, an associate professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School, thinks the only solution to the growing costs of health care is to change the system to a government-run system that reduces costs as it provides universal care.
"Profiteering by the drug, medical device and insurance companies is pushing costs into the stratosphere," Woolhandler said. "Uniquely among developed nations, the U.S. views health care as a business."
"Other affluent nations such as Canada, France and other European countries treat health care as a public good; they have nonprofit, national health insurance," Woolhandler added. "People in those countries live longer than Americans and spend only about half as much for health care."
Greg Scandlen, founder of Consumers for Health Care Choices, said the report correctly identifies the problem areas in health-care costs. However, he thinks the solution is to make consumers pay for t
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