by Duluth News Tribune
August 31, 2012 at 7:00 pm in Duluth News Tribune
Allow me to propose a hypothetical situation.
Tags: Business, columnists, columns, Editorials, Health, Local view, money, Opinion, Politics 5 Comments »
The good doctor’s analogy is oversimplified and omits the entire story. A revised, more accurate analogy:
The guy with the ladder and nice truck has invested billions of dollars to develop ladders to help people in different types of burning buildings or who are endangered fire, flood, windstorms, etc. Without this guy, there wouldn’t be a ladder tall enough to reach your floor–he’s an innovator, a scientist, a humanitarian and an entrepreneur. Without profit, there would be no advancement in ladder technology.
These ladders are put through extensive testing and approval processes to ensure that they are as safe as possible; even so, people who are injured or killed during use of these innovative new ladders then turn around and sue the guy who took assumed all of the risk while trying to save their lives.
And what thanks does the guy with the innovative ladders get? He has his innovation given away for any and all to copy and sell with no compensation. Never mind the tens of thousands of employees that the ladder guy has….no, they are of no consequence either.
But most telling is this: The cost of ladders has risen substantially due to the government heavily subsidizing said ladders. This happens with any product: education, housing, health care and…..ladders.
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Winner yadda yadda Winner, complaining without offering a solution or acknowledgement, yadda yadda, complain complain, be like Rush.
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We hear these stories all to often….and they do make us shake our head and feel bad for those directly affected by them, but that being said, while I can and will certainly acknowledge the suffering (budgetary in this case) these expensive neccessary drugs cost, I also realize that there are millions and in most cases billions of dollars of invested cost paid to bring a new drug to market. It’s not like some mad scientist came up with this wonder drug in his basement one afternoon and decided to sell the drug to those who need it for 25 cents per pill. It would be the equivalent of a group of people spending years attempting to develop something, failing a number of times perhaps, and finally years later hit on the correct formula that appears to work. They now spend years in animal and human testing to clarify any side effects etc… They have to set aside some money for the inevitable law suites that will arise due to reasons unknown before they happen….and happen they will. There isn’t a drug out there that hasn’t caused serious harm to someone at some time due to a combination of unique individual human biology and your drug that works on 99.99% of people and may have saved thousands of lives….as the drug in question here has.
So…after all of that, without thinking we wonder why this little tiny pill in our hand can cost so much when it’s so small and costs virtually nothing to actually manufacture (raw materials, labor etc…)
I’m not defending this system, obviously it’s a huge (heart breaking when you hear the stories) problem we find ourselves in, but at the same time you can’t just ignore the facts (time and expense) of how this drug came to be in the pill bottle in your medicine cabinet.
Again, I’m not saying there isn’t a problem here, but we cannot just solve this problem with emotional appeals of how such a tiny little lifesaving pill just shouldn’t be so expensive without acknowdedging that without billions of invested dollars and many years of time spent by hundreds of people with no guarantee of a profit upfront, came to be in your medicine cabinet and save your life.
Maybe the profits the drug maker make on this drug on crazy high, I dont know. But we have intellectual property rights of various sorts in this country that need to be valued if we ever want to see improvements in future products…and perhaps more life saving drugs in the future.
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That’s a fairly correct synopsis. It typically doesn’t cost a drug manufacturer much more to produce 300 pills as it does 30. You’re not paying for the raw materials. You’re paying for the research and development of the new drug. And if the drug is meant for the treatment of a disease that is rare, you can probably expect to pay a lot for it. This says nothing about how one should go about paying for said drugs and how government can play a role in making the medication more affordable, but to be dismissive and say the high cost of the drug is simply the result of corporate greed really fails to understand the totality of the problem. That being said, I do wish Dr. Just all the best in fighting this disease.
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