Pharma Shrugged

We take issue with the commonly-held view that pushing a drug price as much as the market will bear is a fiduciary and ethical obligation: Draining every possible penny from the health care ecosystem jeopardizes the longterm health of that system; considering the ongoing viability of the industry is a pragmatic necessity. There is a desperate need for some rebalancing of the dynamics between longterm and shortterm agendas, because the current system is a carnival of myopic self-interest.

Speaking of which: Neurocrine is pricing Ingrezza at $128,000 per year, for now. Chronic schizophrenics tend to not have platinum-plated health insurance, if anything. This comes in the wake of Marathon‘s aborted sprint to $89,000, and Acadia‘s lunge for $24,000, and Biogen‘s mind-boggling $750,000 for the first year of Spinraza (albeit a life-saving and changing drug). Did these CEOs make some sort of perverse side bet on who could gouge the loudest? The next time a CEO gurgles some nonsense about coupons and discounts, they should be asked if they will throw in a toaster and VitaMix to seal the deal. It validates every negative stereotype about the pharma business, which is not in the best interests of the industry or the companies in it. Hebrew National used to run an ad about their kosher hot dogs that included the tag line: ‘We answer  to a higher authority.’ Even from a secular viewpoint, we all do, and it isn’t Ayn Rand.

(from NeuroPerspective, May-June 2017)

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