What's the best way to bring down drug prices?

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As TIME reports this week, Americans pay far more for their medicines than citizens of other industrialized countries. With Congress recently passing a bill revising prescription drug coverage for seniors and the election approaching, the issue remains hot. Some lay the blame on the drug companies: their profit margins are nearly twice as high as other U.S. industries, and they employ hundreds of lobbyists in Washington. But it was Congress who gave up the authority to negotiate drug prices on Medicare's behalf, and drug companies say price controls will only hurt their ever-expanding drug research programs. What do you think? Is there a way for the U.S. to bring down drug costs without stifling innovation? Send us your thoughts.

Please limit your responses to 80 words or less. The best entries will be published on TIME.com throughout the week.

Some of your responses:

Start buying drugs from Canada and Mexico. Once the drug companies see their revenue fall they'll start lowering prices. The politicians will not move since they have 100% health-care coverage thanks to the U.S. taxpayer. It is up to the individual to act. Mr. Bush just vaporized $3 trillion in surplus to settle a personal score with Saddam and make his friends rich. Could have used the money for prescriptions.
Stan Gable

The amount of money that drug companies spend on advertising is ludicrous. Who winds up paying for the advertising? You bet. The consumer. Find a way to limit how much can be spent on marketing, including the campaigning done in doctor's offices and hospitals.
Christopher Gross
West Hartford, Conn.

Although there are numerous ways, one that is rarely mentioned is for people to accept responsibility for making lifestyle changes associated with many preventable diseases. If people had to pay out of thier own pocket for an illness caused by thier own poor health habits, it might be an incentive to take better care of ourselves, thus lowering our drug costs.
Rosalyn Cordis
Oak Park, Ill.

We need a single-payer health care plan. We should pool all our health care dollars in one pot and negotiate for the best price possible. Start with California. We must pay over $5 billion a year on health care. Who wants to bid on that market? I assume that would result in lower prices.
Anthony Rodgers
Oakland, Calif.

Bulk of cost comes from research and blind studies of drugs. The cost to prove a drug worthy for consumer consumsion is incredibly high. If the FDA conducted the blind studies at their expense and the patent life were longer, prices would come down.
Jack Tamulonis
Manchester, N.H.

The third-party system keeps costs astronomical. People who are covered don't mind paying $600 for a bottle of pills as long as they have their $15 deductible. If insurance companies were eliminated and people paid out of pocket, the market would demand lower costs. The government needs to help fund pharmaceutical research. Military R&D got us cell phones, the Internet, and Teflon. Instead of making life-saving drugs a lucrative business venture, the government should be the one funding in the first place so that patents won't be an issue. And people take way too many drugs. Lay off.
Maurna Desmond
Los Angeles, Calif.

Most of the high cost of drugs is due to the high mark-up of the pharmacies, not the drug makers. Our local Costco, for instance, charges $26 for the same generic drug that Walgreen's charges $122 for! Why has nobody brought this point up? If you have insurance, you don't realize what your insurance company is paying. Do your own survey on prices — you'll be shocked at what you find!
Tammy Todd
Cedar Lake, Ind.

The American government like the Canadian government did have to ability to buy drugs in mass quantities all along and still does have the ability to buy for veterans. With the new Medicare, Congress sold the right to buy in mass quantities to the Drug Companies along with their souls.
Cathy Melvin
East Madison, Maine

It's a moot question. The pharmaceutical companies and their well-heeled lobbyists have found pockets to fill and palms to cross for too long. Our elected officials will not make any changes in the way mega-industrial conglomerates stick it to the average American citizen day after day.
Shar Porier
Homer, Ga.

Have it government-controlled. Pure and simple. Everybody's making money except the people that bust their ass everyday. All potential price increases should be approved by a government facility, i.e. the FDA, or on a level of individual income.
Richard Forlizzo
Crystal Beach, Fla.

Expand Medicare into a single payer plan that would cover everyone. Then allow Medicare to negotiate with the drug companies.
Glen Jones
Liberty Lake, Wash.

If you look at the prices of newer prescription drugs that offer similar treatments to existing ones (e.g. Viagra and Levitra, Lipitor and Zocor, Paxil and Zoloft) you notice that the prices are very close to each other. That suggests collusion among the drug manufacturers. If it was an effective free market, such as in computers, cameras and televisions, the prices of newer products would be lower. Why hasn't media raised this question? Congress or the FTC should look into the pricing policies of the big pharmas.
Las Vegas, Nev.

The ability to buy prescription drugs from Canada and Mexico. Globalization seems to apply to everything accept the pharmaceuticals. Universal health care would also be a safeguard against price gouging.
Jerry Hallford
Stockbridge, Ga.

We need to shorten the length of patent protection to allow more competition. Loosen prescription laws to make more drugs over-the-counter. Allow people to order drugs from other countries where drugs are cheaper. Loosen the drug approval process to decrease costs. Reduce liabilities of drug companies to reduce legal expenses.
Oliver Shephard

In lieu of employers paying for health insurance, if each person personally paid for his or her health insurance, then it would go down. Too much government intervention and too many layers of disconnect between the insured and the insurer create an uncompetitive system.
Karen Coffey
Austin, Texas

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