The high price of prescription medication has been in the news lately. I am sure you remember CEO Martin Shkreli of Turin Pharmaceuticals, Shkreli tried to increase the price of Daraprim by over 5000 percent. Daraprim is a drug that treats patients with a compromised immune system, specifically, AIDS patients. Shkreli defended the price increase saying that it was necessary in order to fund Research and Development of new drugs. Shkreli was the most hated man in America, when criticism reached a “breaking point” Shkreli agreed to lower the price of Daraprim to an “affordable level” “despite insisting that he would not bow to public pressure”. Of course, we do not know the affordable price and we do not know if the price has been lowered yet. Another ridiculous price increase decision was made by CEO Mike Pearson of Valeant Pharmaceuticals for sodium Nitropress to treat high blood pressure, Cuprimine to treat rheumatoid arthritis, and Isuprel primarily to treat bradycardia.
The United States is among the highest in the world with regard to the price of prescription drugs/medications, Japan wins the award for the highest prices for prescription medication. Many feel that Research and Development costs for new and innovative drugs is not the greatest cost for pharmaceutical companies. The greatest cost is marketing/advertising costs. Additionally, it is thought that the industry’s innovative and new drugs come from the U.S. government (NIH), academic/university labs and small biotech companies.
“Pharmaceutical pricing that strikes the right balance between affordability and enabling innovation is an issue of legitimate concern for patients and the industry”. I hope that we will not continue to see the outrageous price increases and that future senate committees can recommend a solution to this critical issue that will be agreeable for both the Pharmaceutical/Biotech companies and patients.
I am curious as to how other biotech/Pharma companies with new drugs in their pipeline will price them given the intense scrutiny from the patients/US citizens and Capitol Hill.