Wednesday, May 28, 2014

How much would you pay to heal yourself?

Current pharmaceutical pricing of new cancer drugs are sky rocketing. $100,000 for a new medication designed to extend life by months or weeks is crazy. Here is a very long article on cancer drug pricing and all the issues surrounding it. I say read it, its worth it to get a better understanding of the issues surrounding the high prices.

My few points are:
  • Pharma companies spend billions on research, required testing to meet FDA standards, and then can only expect to reap the benefits through the length of their patent which is ten years.
  • If they lowered prices, their share holders would be unhappy and less likely to fund additional research for new drugs which would result in fewer new drugs in the future even though the short term benefit of reduced pricing would benefit patients. But the shareholders would be happy.
  • In their research process, numerous discoveries do not make it FDA approval and are tossed, throwing out years of research and billions of lost costs.
  • And the most appalling: "The high cost of current cancer therapies is at least limited by the relatively small patient populations they treat.  Next generation immunotherapies, including CTLA-4, PD-1 (programmed cell death), and chimeric antigen receptor therapies (CARTs), appear to deliver much improved outcomes (in some cases including complete remissions) with limited side effects – and may also be used to treat many more cancer types and much larger patient populations than current therapies.  Given their inherent value to patients, they could easily command prices well in excess of $100,000 per course of treatment." Please reread that last sentence: Given their inherent value to patients, they could easily command prices well in excess of $100,000 per course of treatment.
I can accept that lots of research can end up in the trash bin if drugs do not perform as expected. I can buy that happy, rich, healthy share holders help companies stay on track. But I cannot and will not accept pricing based on the 'inherent value to patients'. That is basically saying that they are charging what they think a patient would pay.

This is like saying when you break a leg, how much would you pay to have it set and mending with pain under control? At the second of pain, you would probably pay $2000 for that first shot of morphine....

That's insane. Go get some morals and charge patients correctly.

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