DECEMBER 10, 1959
ST. LOUIS—I think everyone must have been a little shocked at the defense of the very high mark-up in drug prices.
Many of those needing these drugs are old people living on Social Security. They cannot afford these prices.
It is true that drug manufacturers are in an intensely competitive field, that much research is needed, and that frequently research does not produce immediately the result that the drug manufacturers desire.
But not all of the research is done in the drug company's laboratory. Much of it is done outside.
All of the explanations given before the Senate subcommittee, as well as details of the possible risks, are probably comparatively valid, but they do not make it satisfactory to continue practices which practically put most drugs far beyond the means of the people who need them most.
I think this Congressional investigation has been long overdue, and the time has come for us to do some careful thinking on how the risks can be curtailed, the prices lowered, and the public protected.
On Monday night the Democratic Advisory Council gave a dinner in my honor which, it was hoped, would raise money to help the National Democratic Committee pay off its deficit. I hope it was possible to help the national committee, since we need money for education and organizing all through the year and not only during the campaign itself.
This dinner also provided an opportunity for the Democrats present to get a glimpse of those who have been mentioned as candidates for the Presidency in 1960.
Senator Lyndon Johnson did not appear among these candidates, and, of course, it is quite possible that the Senator is not actually a candidate. But he probably has every desire and intention to have something to say in the choice of the man who is nominated.
Those who were present were more than kind to me, and I think all received a warm welcome. But no one received the ovation which was accorded Adlai Stevenson. This showed, I think, how loyal large numbers of our party are to him.
As I listened to the speeches, I could not help thinking that perhaps one of the things we ought to emphasize in our party is the need to prevent crises. We have not thought enough about the obligation of leadership to plan far enough ahead to prevent our arriving on the brink of disaster.
It seems to me that the "brinkmanship" which characterized some of our opposition's policies has been proved dangerous and that one of the things we should particularly strive for in the next few years is foresight, imagination and preventive action. This, in the end, may prove to be wiser statesmanship than facing with courage a situation which should never have been allowed to develop.