At this time last year, Martin Shkreli, the CEO of Turing Pharmacuticals, found himself in hot water after raising the price of HIV drug Daraprim by 5000 percent overnight.
According to The Oklahoman, after Shkreli was ousted from Turing, the price of the drug was lowered to $375, which was still 2500 percent higher than the pre-Shkreli price.
This year, we have a new face for drug pricing villainy: Heather Bresch, who heads Mylan the pharmaceutical company that produces Epipens.
According to Dr. Stephen Prescott, Epipens deliver life-saving epinephrine to people with extreme allergies that could suffer from anaphylaxis, which causes breathing passages to close. What makes Epipens so special is how easy they are to use.
Epipens were invented in 1977, so research and development costs were long ago regained by the company. Mylan bought the rights to Epipen in 2007 from Merck. At the time Epipens were selling for $57 each.
In the interim nine years, Mylan has steadily increased the price of Epipens to over $600 with no viable alternative on the market.
In response to public outcry, Mylan has introduced a generic version of the Epipen which will cost consumers $300, far more than the cost of production for this lifesaving medicine.
One solution that would solve pharmaceutical price gouging and many other healthcare-related issues would be a switch to a single-payer healthcare system.
The system would have the government perform the role of insurance provider and offset its cost with taxes. This method would allow the federal government’s massive bargaining power to lower costs, not only of prescription drugs, but of many medical costs.
The true issue that we face when price-gouging and extreme costs enter the healthcare realm is the fact that capitalism is allowed to rule our healthcare system.
Instead of a focus on people, health and healing, there is only a focus on profit. When it comes to something as important as our collective health, profit should play no part.
Dan Munro, author of “Casino Healthcare,” sums it up this way in answer to a question on quora.com on Aug. 26:
“So no, the EpiPen story isn’t rare or all that different. It’s just the latest in a long line of stories that will continue to repeat until we make systemic changes to the way U.S. healthcare is designed. We can make those changes. We should make those changes, but the first step for all of us is to understand that the system we have—now running at $3.4 trillion per year—isn’t broken at all. It was designed this way, and we just need a whole new design. One that’s not optimized for revenue and profits first, but one that puts patient safety, quality and, yes, equality first.“