Of course, the correct answer is "prices." The FDA has recently stumbled upon this insight in a study that finds that (gasp) competition lowers pharmaceutical prices. The AP reports,
Prescription drug prices soften dramatically even with moderate competition, the Food and Drug Administration said Tuesday in an analysis that shows the arrival in the marketplace of just two generic versions of a brand-name medicine can nearly halve the price consumers pay.
The AP story further notes,
Release of the analysis comes amid ongoing criticism that the FDA is slow to approve generic versions of brand-name pharmaceuticals. The agency has a backlog of roughly 800 generic drug applications.
Not being one to let the way-too-cautious bureaucrats at the FDA off easily, it still bears pointing out (as I have many times before) that pharmaceutical companies whose 20 year patents have run out also stifle competition by means of shady legal tactics aiming to delay the approval of generics.