Tuesday, August 4, 2015

How are drug prices set?

I watched an horrific story on The National last night. I was truly shocked, but not surprised.

The big Pharmas are setting different prices for different drugs, depending upon how much money a family has, where they live, and what their government can afford to pay. New Zealand, for example, has eschewed this drug, since they cannot negotiate a price they can afford.

Soliris, a drug which targets AHUS, for example. It costs the manufacturer about $60 to manufacture each bottle, and they charge $6700 per bottle to certain governments, and insurance companies, who pay for it for their patients. Once a government contracts with Alexion, their deal and the cost of the drugs must be kept silent. Some are granted the drug for humanitarian reasons, if they is nothing else that will offer them a cure. Others, such as the man in the video, who can maintain his health with daily dialysis, they refuse to grant him access to the drug.

The worst part of this is information from a researcher who tells us that most of the research leading up to the invention of this drug was done using taxpayer dollars, within R & D departments, in academic laboratories.
You are, of course, familiar with crowd sourcing initiatives for those unable to afford medical treatments? Big Pharmas are now hiring PR firms who teach desperate families how to exploit the media, and milk the public for more money. As one who is a shareholder, with many varied stocks, I am becoming more inclined to put my money under a mattress.

How pharmaceutical company Alexion set the price of the ...
A special drug for an extremely rare disease, Soliris costs about half a million dollars per patient, per year, for life. Why? The reasons for the price are locked in "the black box" of drug pricing that governments are seeking to crack open.
Alexion said drug pricing depends on a "unique decision-making framework" that takes into account "the rarity and severity of the disease, the absence of effective alternative treatments, indirect medical and social costs, and clinical data that demonstrate the impact of the drug on patients who desperately need it." 
Soliris is Alexion's only drug, but it's a blockbuster, earning revenues of more than $6 billion in just eight years, and making Alexion one of the fastest growing companies in the world.

Accessing healthcare isn't cheap, even in this country with universal healthcare. We are at visit #44 for prostate cancer. Our friend is far beyond visit #100.

  • Transportation to and from appointments
  • Parking at hospitals ($13  or $14/visit)
  • Meals out, while on the road for treatments
  • Drugs you take at home, rather than in a hospital, patients pay for.
  • Time off work, which is a dear cost in terms of time, energy, goodwill from your employer, even if you are on a salary, and not working on hourly wages.


Soliris is indicated for the treatment of patients with paroxysmal nocturnal hemoglobinuria (PNH) to reduce hemolysis. See full prescribing information.

How A $440,000 Drug Is Turning Alexion Into Biotech's New ...

Sep 5, 2012 - 10 Stocks to Buy Now ... Alexion shares are up 600% since the drug's.... by insurance,” says Biotechnology Stock Research's David Miller.

1 comment:

EG CameraGirl said...

Owners and stockholders of some companies are sociopaths, I suspect.