Can you lower drug prices without hurting pharmaceutical innovation? : The Indicator from Planet Money Why are American consumers paying out the wazoo for drugs? Drug companies say it's because they need that money to fund the research and development that goes into making new life-saving drugs. Today we talk to a health economist who says you actually can have it all, lower prices and more innovation.

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New drugs. Cheaper drugs. Why not both?

New drugs. Cheaper drugs. Why not both?

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WASHINGTON, DC - OCTOBER 06: Activists hit a piñata carrying empty pill bottles during a protest against the price of prescription drug costs in front of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) building on October 06, 2022 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images) Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images hide caption

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Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

WASHINGTON, DC - OCTOBER 06: Activists hit a piñata carrying empty pill bottles during a protest against the price of prescription drug costs in front of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) building on October 06, 2022 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images)

Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

Here's the argument: Americans pay loads for drugs. That motivates and funds pharmaceutical companies' research and development for better drugs. The fear is that if you lower the cost of drugs you might hurt overall innovation.

Today on the show, we speak with a health economist who argues that's not always true. In fact, she says there are a bunch of policies that could help bring down drug prices without stifling innovation.

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For sponsor-free episodes of The Indicator from Planet Money, subscribe to Planet Money+ via Apple Podcasts or at plus.npr.org.