A PROGRESSIVE VOICE FROM THE LLANO ESTACADO

Sunday, March 13, 2011

A Perfect Example Of Drug Company Greed

I have long believed that the owners and management of the big drug companies are among the greediest corporate criminals in this country. They don't just cover their costs and make a fair profit, they gouge the consumer -- and they know they can get away with it because when a person is sick they will pay whatever is necessary to get well. And gouging the sick is about as low as a company or person can get.

And our government helps these companies to do this. When the health care reform was being debated (and before that, when the Bush drug plan was being debated) it was revealed that drugs that Americans pay a premium price for are sold for much less in other countries. The Canadian health care system negotiates with the drug companies and get a better price. And it is common knowledge that many Americans go to Mexico to buy drugs made by American companies, because even considering the cost of the trip it is cheaper to buy the drug there than in America (even though they are breaking the law to do so).

And what has the government done to help the consumer? Nothing. They refuse to allow hospitals and consumers to buy drugs out of country, they refuse to negotiate a cheaper price for drugs for Medicare and Medicaid, and they protect drug monopolies by American companies. They claim it is to protect the companies' profits and encourage them to do more drug research. Frankly I don't believe that. These companies wouldn't be selling the drugs cheaper to other countries if they weren't still making a nice profit. No, they are allowed to gouge American consumers because they have some very good lobbyists in Washington (and too many corporate-owned politicians in Congress).

Recently there has been a perfect example of this drug company greed. There is a drug called Makena that is very effective in preventing premature births. It is an easily manufactured drug that has been made and distributed for years. It is given as a shot to pregnant women in danger of having a premature birth, and only costs about $10 per dose. At least that's what it used to cost.

But recently the Food & Drug Administration (FDA), in their infinite government wisdom, has given KV Pharmaceuticals (KVP) the exclusive right to make the drug for the next seven years, even though the drug can easily be compounded in pharmacies. And KVP has sent those compounding pharmacies a "cease-and-desist" letter demanding they stop compounding the drug and only buy it from them.

Guess what the price of the drug is now that KVP has a monopoly? It has jumped from $10 a dose to $1500 a dose -- and there's not a damn thing the consumer can do about it. This has driven the cost of treatment by this drug during a pregnancy up to as much as $30,000! Why did the company do this? Because they know they can get away with it and they're greedy jerks.

The company says that women will be willing to pay the price because if they don't they will have a premature baby, and the $30,000 price is still cheaper than the cost of having a premature baby which is around $51,000. How's that for greedy logic? They couldn't be happy with a raise to $50 or $100. They had to push the price to the extreme and get all the market will bear -- because they have pregnant women at a serious disadvantage.

And guess who's going to wind up paying for this drug company greed? In the final analysis, the American consumer and taxpayer will. If the women have private insurance, insurance premiums will go up for everyone to pay for this new and exorbitant cost. If the women is on Medicaid or getting their health care at a county public hospital, then the federal, state or local government will have to pay the increased cost. It doesn't matter whether the women get the drug or have a premature baby, it is going to cost consumers and taxpayers more.

Both the FDA and KVP should be ashamed of themselves, but I doubt they are. They were just "doing their jobs". The FDA was protecting the drug company, and KVP was just maximizing their profits. It's the ordinary Americans who get screwed and neither one seems to care about that.

3 comments:

  1. So capitalism is OK for you when you are making money but not OK when you need something you can't afford.
    My easy answer to this problem is...
    if the item is cheap and easy to make then start your own company to make the item and then give it away (ie sell a low cost)OH and you have to pick on medicine for rare problems that very few have. Lets see how you do.

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  2. There were pharmacies making the drug and selling it cheaply, but the government now says that is against the law. Actually, free enterprise (capitalism) was working for the benefit of everyone in this case - until the government stepped in and put a stop to it.

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  3. See what speed reading will do. Missed a whole paragraph.
    Rereading is very different and makes no real sense.
    I realize that the gov'mint is corrupt and corps will take every advantage but this is just wrong!
    IF 'even though the drug can easily be compounded in pharmacies' is true then why can't the customer buy the 'compounds' and get a 3rd party to put them together? There must be something?

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