Move over, Pharma Bro; there’s a new price-gouging villain in town.
"This is simply price-gouging. Period. People are not going to be able to afford it, or they're going to pay a lot of money and have financial liability,” said Henry S. Friedman, a professor of neurosurgery at Duke University School of Medicine.
The drug, which has been around for 40 years, changed ownership from Bristol-Myers Squibb to a smaller start-up called NextSource Biotechnology about four years ago. In that time, the drug went from costing around $50 per capsule for the highest dose to $768 per capsule. NextSource has increased the price nine times since they took ownership.
NextSource has attempted to justify the sky-rocketing price by claiming it’s due to “development costs, regulatory fees, and the benefit the drug provides to patients,” according to CEO Robert DiCrisci.
How can they get away with this? There’s, literally, no competition. The drug is no longer patented, but no company has attempted to make a generic form.
It’s an incredibly disturbing dark side to the free market. To paraphrase "Jurassic Park," drug companies are so obsessed with whether or not they can, that they don’t stop and think if they should.
For example, you can charge half a million dollars for a cancer treatment, like the company Novartis does, and you can have treatment delayed due to payment and insurance problems like Gilead Sciences often causes — as they charge $373,000 for their drug, Yescarta — however, that doesn't mean these companies should do these things.
While drugs and research are expensive, there's a fine line between the necessary costs associated with producing these medications and corporate greed.
When will these companies value ethics over monetary gain?
There are no clear or immediate answers, but one hopes there is room and incentive enough for an ethical drug company to come along and make generics of the unpatented medications.
Lives depend on it.