Manal Haddad

Why is the Pharma Industry in Hot Water Regarding Drug Pricing?

While the Pharma industry is no stranger for being in the news, the recent hikes in drug pricing have given consumers cause for concern. Not only are consumers asking for lower prices, but investors have also started to ask for transparency, particularly regarding drug pricing.

Price Rise for Orphan Drugs

The most disturbing thing is that these businesses have increased the prices of drugs that are essential for the patients’ survival and are purchased on a regular basis. An example can be seen in the case of the drug named Daraprim. Used to treat toxoplasmosis, a parasitic infection, in 2015, the cost of Daraprim came up to a per tablet amount of $13.50.

After the drug was acquired by another company, the price for it shot up to $750 per tablet. This meant that for the duration of the treatment, the patient can now face medical costs of up to $73,500. With a price increase that high, the production costs have also come under review but each pill takes around $1 to be manufactured. This isn’t the only case where this has happened.

The Competition Isn’t Helping

While there is competition in the pharma industry, it has done nothing to curb the high prices of the medications. In fact, a patient will have to actively search for the cheapest option which isn’t exactly cheap in this scenario.

For example, The drug named Yervoy for treatment of melanoma can cost almost $120,000 whereas it’s competitor, called Keytruda can cost around $150,000 per year. Used in combination with other medication, the total medical expense a person can face for treatment of melanoma can easily come up to $270,000 per year. Even if it a person is insured, the co-pay this amount entails is extremely large.

Even drugs that are needed for short periods of time are becoming too expensive. Solvadi, a drug launched for the treatment of Hepatitis C, cost around $1,000. A daily dose is required for 12 weeks for complete treatment and can easily run up to $12,000.

Call for Reform

Recently, CEO of Gilead, John Milligan also requested the pharma industry to be more transparent due to the fact that the current system places an excessive amount of burden on the concerned patients. Various companies such as Turing Pharmaceuticals have effectively managed to raise the price of their most recent drug, meant for patients suffering from compromised immune systems caused by cancer and AIDS. The increase in price was essentially made in a bid to reduce competition but it could spell disaster for the consumers.

With more users becoming more aware, the sudden rise in prices has come under scrutiny with various individuals requesting lower pricing and more transparency. The public outcry for lower prices has become undeniable and different companies are finding themselves in hot water. Many presidential candidates, including Hilary Clinton and even President Trump, have promised to get these under control but so far, there is little change.

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