Saturday, March 12, 2011

When business interests come first

If you have wondered about why drugs cost so much? Here's an example where a pregnancy drug is going from $10 per dose to $1500 per dose.

It is a form of progesterone that has been available through compounding pharmacies for decades but now the FDA has approved a branded version which will be for sale for $1500 for each dose. The owners of the branded version will make lots of money. Compounding pharmacies will face lawsuits if they continue to offer nonbranded versions of the same formula. Doctors will be forced to prescribe the branded version because it has been tested and proven.

I don't blame the FDA here. Some one wanted to offer a branded version and jumped through the FDA's hoops to get the approval. I don't blame the doctors here either. If you were practicing and concerned about potential malpractice suits by telling patients to get an untested drug when there is a tested version out there, which would you prescribe to your patients?

I don't blame the insurance companies here either or the pharmaceutical companies. I blame the system that allows the business interests to come ahead of those of the patients. If something has been made available for years cheaply, why can some one brand it and offer it for such a high price? On the other hand, why can't they brand it either? I mean if they have a special compound and want to protect it, why not? Then there is the issue of lawsuit ready patients who are ready to sue at the drop of a hat.

But why does the system allow business interests to come ahead of the interests and health of patients and controlling costs? We are capitalists but shouldn't health come before wealth?

1 comment:

Dee said...

I agree. This topic pisses me off. I was once interviewed by a marketing company, who was hired by the makers of Tykerb, to ask me what Tykerb could do to make taking the medicine easier for patients.

My reply? "Make the drug cheaper for patients." (Tykerb costs about $3500/month)

They said, "What if we created a care package that included things that would help with the side effects?"

My reply? "That would be okay, but what would help patients more is to make the drug cheaper." (This was at the beginning or middle of the recession and I knew a lot of people without insurance.)

Then, they asked, "How about if we sent a chart so patients could keep track of how much they take?"

My reply? "They can make a chart up themselves. Make the drug cheaper for patients."

Then, the interviewer kept circling back around to other ideas that would essentially help them market the drug to patients better. I kept saying, "make it cheaper".

It's so frustrating. This is what is wrong with our healthcare system - when business decisions take precedence over people. One of my friends who works in the health care industry said that her organization was making decisions based on profit not patient care.


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