The Cost of Cure

 

 The ways in which our medical and medicine industries are funded defy any attempt to find cures for a broken toenail, let alone cancer or Alzheimer’s disease.

Just imagine who would suffer if a miraculous cure for cancer were to be found at breakfast time tomorrow morning. Half the medical profession would be on its knees. So there’s a huge question that’s left; is there really any incentive to find a cure at all? Ever?

Hundreds of billions of dollars and millions of jobs would be ostensibly lost or at least stopped in their tracks.

Major hospitals and all the dependent services would no longer be needed.

The charities’ expensive administrations would have to find another reason to keep their hands held out. Don’t get me wrong – I’ve given my fair share over the years and continue to do so.

There’s almost a parallel in the gasoline business – pay the guy that finds a pill to drop into a tank of water for $2.50 and keep him quiet with a big personal payday, while the big gas companies continue to insist that theirs is the only cost-efficient way to get around.

Meanwhile suppliers, especially of pharmaceuticals, continue to hold poor, unfortunate sufferers to ransom with insurance companies firmly entrenched in this shady stream of commerce; premiums to uphold the payment of larger and larger costs going up in concert with the demand.

Janssens and Pharmacyclics, a joint venture partially owned by Johnson and Johnson, has just released a “new, innovative approach” to the treatment of patients with a certain type of blood cancer – they’ve quadrupled the price of their pills, regardless of the dosage, so the lower dose costs the same as a higher dose. The annual cost of the regimen -- $148,000 per patient! Doctors were working on a lower-dose course to obviate some side effects and lower the expense so the company is “discontinuing” the lower-dose pills in three months. And to make matters smell even worse, the regulators went along with the gig!! It makes you wonder if they too are ‘in the stream of commerce.’ I wonder if one of them were to be unfortunately stricken with this awful disease, would they so quickly sanction such an increase?

Imagine what would happen to the stock price of these companies – even to the stock exchange. Too big to change? We went down that road 10 years ago. So you have to wonder if the continued commitment to find a very expensive cure for many diseases is differently driven from the rationale of commitment itself – they’re at complete odds with one another.

I probably don’t need to remind you of that miserable moneygrubber, Martin Shkreli, the founder of and CEO of Turing Pharmaceuticals, who raised the price of the drug Daraprim from $13.50 per pill to $750 by buying an old supplier and selling the same drug at the increased price through the new company.

If you consider the billions of dollars spent on cancer research alone in the last 50 years – the most innovative in medical and research history – and we haven’t come what seems to be close to a cure, then you have to wonder why not.

In the meantime those companies that produce drugs to ameliorate the effects of these diseases are more akin to proctologists than medical suppliers.

Last modified on Tuesday, 08 May 2018 20:51