The age of effective medicinal drugs, which dawned about 50 years ago, transformed the health care industry. Americans have become used to taking a pill to cure many diseases and improve their lives in other ways. Many senior citizens, though, can recall growing up in a world where there were no easy cures for many serious conditions that today are regarded as little more than irritations. President Calvin Coolidge’s son died from an infection he picked up while playing in the White House rose garden. There’s no reason anyone in America should face that risk today. But good drug therapies are only as good as patients’ access to them. The best cures in the world are of no use if exorbitant prices put them out of reach.

It is no exaggeration ...

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