Saturday, March 11, 2006

Grand Theft Cancer

A Cancer Drug's Big Price Rise Disturbs Doctors and Patients
On Feb. 3, Joyce Elkins filled a prescription for a two-week supply of nitrogen mustard, a decades-old cancer drug used to treat a rare form of lymphoma. The cost was $77.50.
On Feb. 17, Ms. Elkins, a 64-year-old retiree who lives in Georgetown, Tex., returned to her pharmacy for a refill. This time, following a huge increase in the wholesale price of the drug, the cost was $548.01.
Last August, Merck, which makes Mustargen, sold the rights to manufacture and market it and Cosmegen, another cancer drug, to Ovation Pharmaceuticals (...) Now Ovation has raised the wholesale price of Mustargen roughly tenfold and that of Cosmegen even more, according to several pharmacists and patients.

Given that these patients are likely to die, I think it is very noble of the drug companies to extract every last penny. As everybody knows, you can't take it with you.

So raise a glass to the petro-industrial-pharmaceutical cabal.
They have the best of intentions.


At 3:33 PM, March 11, 2006, Blogger Jen S. said...

Those pharmaceutical companies are the worst life-sucking parasites ever. A friend of mine needed hepatitis treatments, and the combined cost of interferon and all the other meds totalled about $3800.00 per month. Luckily he got insurance a few months later.

At 2:28 AM, March 12, 2006, Blogger Big Gav said...

I always find the US medical system to cause my essentially libertarian economic philosophy no end of cognitive dissonance.

You have (compared to most western countries) the most free market of all health care systems, yet it is far and away the worst at delivering services and as inefficient as anything the Soviets could have dreamt up.

Whereas the basically socialist medical systems in Australia and the UK seem to deliver free health care of a good quality to all citizens (and a lot of visitors) at far lower cost.

Either health care needs a special exemption from normal economic analysis or your system is totally corrupt...

At 8:37 PM, March 12, 2006, Blogger monkeygrinder said...

Thanks for your comments Jen. No question pharmo companies are leaching as much as they can.

Big Gav, I think in USA what it boils down to is free trade==unregulated trade. Unregulated trade means Enron, and Pharmo charging twice as much for drugs in U.S. proper as they charge in Canada. They do it because they can get away with it.

I think what is really needed is a corruption index. Politics, libertarian, left, repuglican, whatnot, have little to do with it if the floodgates are open for multinationals to rape people.

(ps - do libertarians pave their own roads? :))

At 3:14 AM, March 13, 2006, Blogger Big Gav said...

I think your more extreme type of libertarian lives at the end of a dirt track in a shack full of firearms waiting for the opportunity to shoot trespassers :-)

I long ago realised adhering zealously to any ideology is a fools game.

As you point out, roads are a natural monopoly and have no place in the free market. I'd put fresh water in the same category. And, it would seem, healthcare (and maybe a few other things, like the infrastructure to deliver power and a few other utilities)...


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