Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Forcing the decision of putting a value on a patients life

Pharmaceutical companies are forcing the decision of what is the value of a patient's life by putting the huge prices on new medications. There is a new cystic fibrosis drug out, ivacaftor, from Vertex Pharmaceuticals. It costs a paltry $294,000 per year. Doctors are even pushing back to the company about the high cost.

If you are one of the patients with CF who would benefit from this new medication it probably is a life saver. But then you look at the price tag it puts on your life and wonder how you can afford it.

My question to Vertex is how do you justify this cost. I am sure their reply will be somewhere along the lines of:
  • Research is very expensive
  • No patient ever pays the full price - insurance companies do and low cost programs are available.
  • Its worth every penny
My reply is:
  • Research may be expensive but why do the American's only get to pay for it and it is so cheaper overseas.
  • These high prices are driving up insurance costs everywhere and if low cost programs are available
  • Thank you for putting a price tag on the patient's life.

My suggestions back to Vertex are:
  • Look at your research costs and change your formula for recovering those costs. You can expect to bank millions and billions for decades on this drug so spread it out somehow. Maybe you won't get as rich as fast but it would be very helpful.
  • Let the insurance companies negotiate a fair price for these drugs so the insurance rates don't get so high and make everyone eligible for the low cost programs
  • There is no price on a patient's life. Every patient's life is priceless.
  • And what about that overseas pricing? It should be the same as here.

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