That means every new, approved drug would become immediately available on the UK's National Health Service as part of a free market initiative.
And the American system of advertising drugs directly to the patient would also be introduced, US deputy health secretary Alex Azar has mooted.
These radical suggestions are an attempt to circumvent Nice (National Institute for Clinical Excellence), the gatekeeper of the NHS that determines which drug should be prescribed on the NHS, based on an evaluation of efficacy and cost.
Nice has been upsetting quite a few drug companies of late, and has blocked many an 'innovative' drug, either because it doesn't work or because it costs too much.
Things reached a head recently when drug company representatives met with UK government officials to complain about Nice.
Pfizer said it might withdraw its investment in the UK if Nice continued to block its Alzheimer's drug, and Bristol-Myers Squibb said it wanted to invest in countries that had a "favourable environment".
Now, we know medicine tries to maintain the pretence that it is a science, but we suppose it has finally abandoned that charade when it threatens to send the boys round.
(Source: The Guardian, 14 November 2006, and 28 September 2006).
E-news broadcast 16 November 2006 No.310 [Subscribe]