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Santorum: Government shouldn't try to limit drug costs

 

WOODLAKE PARK, Colo. -- In what was billed as a major address on health care, presidential hopeful Rick Santorum took a hard line on Wednesday against government getting involved in offsetting the cost of drug prices.

Before exiting the stage, Santorum was prodded by members of the 300-person crowd to take one last question from a young boy standing in the front row. The child asked what the candidate would do to lower the cost of medicine. But the former Pennsylvania senator said it was the cost of drugs that allowed for the innovation that keeps Americans with life-threatening illnesses alive.

"People have no problem going out and buying an iPad for $900. But paying $200 for a drug they have a problem with -- that keeps you alive. Why? Because you've been conditioned in thinking health care is something you should get and not have to pay for. Drug companies, health care companies need to have a profitability, because if they don't, then how are we going to regulate costs?  We're going to ration care," said Santorum. "And you may be someone who gets that care, but this little boy, because of his condition, or because of his life expectancy may not. Why? Because it's not cost effective."

While some of in the audience applauded Santorum's tough stance against government involvement in drug prices, others protested. The mother of the child yelled out that she was going bankrupt just to pay for her child to keep breathing. It wasn't clear what the boy's condition was.

"I hear these and sympathize with these very passionate cases," Santorum responded to the mother. "Look, I want your son and everybody to have the opportunity to stay alive on much-needed drugs. But the bottom line is, we have companies with the incentive to make those drugs. And if they don't have the incentive to make those drugs, your son won't be alive and lots of other people in this country won't be alive. We either believe in markets or we don't."

Santorum is the father of a special needs child with a genetic disorder.  He was off the trail last week after rushing his daughter, Bella, to the hospital in critical condition on Saturday. Today, he said his 3-year-old will be released from the hospital within the next day.

On the campaign trail, the GOP hopeful talks about how he pays more for the health care of his youngest child, saying it's fair because it is more expensive to take care of her.

When members of the crowd protested what they called the exorbitant cost of the medicines they need, Santorum maintained those prices are what is keeping Americans alive longer.

"You have that drug, and maybe your life today, because people have a profit motive to make that drug," he said.