Monday, February 20, 2017 by Isabelle Z.
Proving yet again that it values the bottom line over human lives, Big Pharma has increased the price of one life-saving medicine by more than 7,000-fold. Adding to the outrage for those who depend on the drug is the fact that this shameful price hike was made possible by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
Big Pharma firm Marathon Pharmaceuticals, which focuses on developing new treatments for rare illnesses, was granted exclusive approval to sell Emflaza. The drug, which is a corticosteroid known as Deflazacort, can help those suffering from Duchenne muscular dystrophy. The treatment’s international market price is just $1,200 a year, but the monopoly granted by the FDA means Marathon can get away with selling it for an outrageous $89,000 a year.
Duchenne muscular dystrophy is a serious and rare genetic neurological illness that causes respiratory and heart problems while destroying muscle strength. It affects around 15,000 Americans, typically younger men, who often end up in a wheelchair by their early teens and don’t live past their 20s. Emflaza can help them retain their ability to walk for longer, improving their quality of life.
While this drug can provide some hope for people struggling with the disease, they are going to need some very deep pockets if they want a real chance of taking it. Most families do not have a spare $89,000 left over in their annual budget.
While Marathon’s Chief Financial Officer, Babar Ghias, claims that the price can be reduced thanks to insurance and financial programs, that appears to be more of an attempt to repair the firm’s image. Harvard Medical School Professor Aaron Kesselheim told the Washington Post that they were essentially “gaming the system” and that many patients might not qualify for or even know about the programs that can bring the cost down. Even then, a reduction is unlikely to bring the drug within reach of many of those who need it.
Kesselheim was one of the authors of an extensive study published in JAMA entitled “The High Cost of Prescription Drugs in the United States: Origins and Prospects for Reform.” The paper concluded that the U.S. government’s granting of government-protected monopolies to drug makers was directly responsible for the high drug prices in our nation.
In another recent example, Valeant Pharmaceuticals wasted no time in hiking the price of a medicine used to treat lead poisoning in the wake of the Flint city water crisis. In fact, the price of the drug in question rose 2,700 percent from 2013 to 2015 after remaining stable for decades, jumping from $950 per vial to nearly $27,000.
Can anyone put a stop to Big Pharma’s greedy ways?
One can only hope that President Trump will make some serious inroads in his quest to lower drug prices throughout the nation. Big Pharma has been getting away with price gouging for far too long, preying on sick people who are desperate to cling to life and charging them ridiculous amounts of money for drugs that may or may not even help their condition – it’s hard to say for sure with all the study manipulation Big Pharma funds.
No one is against making a profit, but charging ridiculously inflated prices goes far beyond the spirit of capitalism. Kesselheim’s JAMA report states that drug development can indeed be pricey, but the study found no association between the research and development costs and drug prices. The CEO of the Federation of American Hospitals, Chip Kahn, said that drug price hikes were “random and inconsistent” and not related to any “clear and important clinical improvements.”
It is no wonder that so many people are now turning to natural medicine to try to treat what ails them. Thankfully, there are plenty of natural remedies out there that can help prevent and even treat certain illnesses, and these are almost always cheaper and have fewer side effects than the ridiculously overpriced poisons peddled by Big Pharma. (RELATED: Learn more about the pharmaceutical drug cartels at DrugCartels.news)