Thursday, April 9, 2015

I want to be free. I want to be free.

The Wall Street Journal's Joseph Walker manages to report on the high cost of drugs, without any analysis of WHY;
“Now we have a wonder drug for hepatitis C; in fact, we have several, but as soon as the drugs appeared they’ve been snatched from our grasp,” Brian R. Edlin, associate professor of medicine at Weill Cornell Medical College, said. “We could literally end the hepatitis C epidemic if we put these tools to use.”
At whose expense, Doc?
In total, states spent $1.08 billion on Sovaldi in the first nine months of 2014, representing 82% of all hepatitis C drug spending, according to the Journal’s analysis of the data, which provide the most comprehensive picture yet of Sovaldi’s financial impact on Medicaid programs. The second-largest expenditure, at $136.3 million, was for Olysio, a pill made by Johnson & Johnson that was often used in combination with Sovaldi.
Sounds like a lot of money. Until you acquaint yourself with the facts of research and development costs, that is. Which isn't hard, in this Google age. Say, from this Forbes piece from 2012;

The Truly Staggering Cost Of Inventing New Drugs

in which, depending on whose numbers you use, the cost of getting a new drug approved by the FDA can be as high as $12 billion dollars. Making Dr. Edlin's plea sound silly. Especially since, as the Forbes piece makes clear;
...if a drug company could promise to invent new medicines for $55 million a pop, its stock price would soar like Apple’s. It really does cost billions of dollars to invent new medicines for heart disease, cancer, or diabetes. The reality is that the pharmaceutical business is in the grip of rising failure rates and rising costs. We can all only hope that new technologies and a better understanding of biology will turn things around.
Well, a better understanding of politics might be the place to start.

No comments:

Post a Comment