The $1,000.00 Pill

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It had been a hectic week.  It is spring break and our Maryland grandkids have been over the house.  We are also getting ready for a visit from our South Carolina family for Easter.  That’s why I haven’t gotten around to posting anything in the last few days.  Also, I have to want to post.  If I feel I am required to post every day then this becomes too much like work.  I’m retired; I don’t want to do anything that even hints at being work.  That’s one of many reasons why I’m not selling any books.  Speaking of books, I hope to finish my final edits on “The Teacher” and have it available on Amazon in a day or two.  Yeah, expect a post on that when it happens.

You might have heard the news story about a new treatment for Hepatitis C.  Its centerpiece is a new drug called Sovaldi.  This drug seems to make the treatment much easier and more effective.  Hepatitis C is a serious decease that can attack the liver and cause death.   The traditional treatments showed a 75 percent success rate.  The treatment around Solvadi is a much simpler treatment and the success rate is up to 80 percent.  This is a breakthrough that could have a lot of lives.  The small problem is that Gilead Sciences Inc. is charging on thousand dollars for a pill.  The treatment requires the patient to take one pill a day.  The treatment takes either 12 or 24 weeks depending upon the patient.  That means the cost of this one pill, and it isn’t the only cost in the treatment, would be 84,000 or 168,000 dollars.

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If you could find anything amusing about this it is that the issue it pitting the big pharmaceutical company against big insurance companies.  I’m going to try and be fair about this.  There has to be a reason that it is good to be rich.  If there isn’t, why would anyone work hard to make money?  It is more than having a bigger car or a bigger house; it is also having security in your life.  Part, of that security, is knowing you can get the best of care.  Medical researchers work very hard and they have spent both a lot of time and a lot of money to get to where they are.  When they are successful they deserve to reap some rewards.  Forcing them to work for the same pay as everyone else to keep the cost of medicine down is a communist idea.  It simply doesn’t work.

The question is the price set by Gilead Science Inc.  Is it reasonable?  Does it have to be so high for the company to recover its research costs and to pay their people well?  I think the answer is in the history of their pricing.  Gilead’s most expensive drug up to now has been their HIV drug Stribild.  That drug costs 80 dollars a pill.  The cost of Sovaldi is a 1,100% increase in price.  Did the researchers on this drug work eleven times harder to make Sovaldi than they did to make Stribild?  Somehow I don’t think so.  Gilead has a right to set any price they want for their products and they have chosen to crank up the profit on this one.

You may be thinking, “So what, I don’t know anyone that has Hepatitis C.”  Well, do you know anyone with Medicaid or Medicare, because your tax dollars will be paying the arbitrary prices that these companies set for their drugs.  Smart people that develop these wonder drugs should be paid well, but their corporate bosses shouldn’t be allowed to fleece suffering people to improve their bottom line.

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About

Pete is a retired software developer, a writer, and a martial arts instructor. He lives in Maryland with his wife Cathy and they are enjoying their retirement. Pete is the author of four novels, "The Teacher", 500 Years from Home", and "The Long Journey Home" are available at Lulu.com; and "Pioneers" in available at the Kindle Book Store.

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Posted in Current Events, Life and Love, Medicine, Opinion, Social Issues

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