The private pharmaceutical industry has every incentive to game the patent system, extract the highest prices it can, and delay the market entry of competitor drugs as long as possible. With the largest lobby in Washington and a well-oiled revolving door to its regulators — hello, Alex Azar! — large pharmaceutical companies have deftly evaded attempts to rein in their excesses. In addition to having potentially catastrophic effects on the lives of patients, profit-maximizing strategies responsible for these eye-watering price tags also result in differential pricing practices with discriminatory effects, unnecessary financial strain on the U.S. health care system, and contribute to growing corporate power over our democracy. But as one of us (D.B.) argues in a report released Tuesday, if we act now to institute a public option for pharmaceuticals, we could ensure that this terrible story is never repeated.