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Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Pharmaceutical companies need to make money

I have written the past 2 days about the high cost of Advair and what an asthmatic might do instead of choosing to not take this medicine at all. One of the ideas that was sent to me was this:
We could make it so pharmaceutical companies no longer make so much money at the expense of people who are sick. It's ridiculous that they make so much money anyway.

Another common question is this:

Why doesn't Obama put a cap on how much prescriptions can cost?

I had a reader email me the following, and I think it will make a fine answer to the above questions:

It is the capitalistic system that developed Advair--and other useful drugs. The drug companies have huge development costs, and huge costs getting through the FDA, and if the drug company can't recoup its expenses, and make a profit for its shareholders, there is no point in the company's ever developing a new drug. We won't ever get any new ones. You don't work for free; me neither. Neither do the shareholders, or the employees, of the companies that develop new drugs.

I agree with this answer completely. What makes America such a great country, and why our economy is the best in the world (despite the recession), is because of capitalism. And the key to making capitalism work is the risk/reward factor.

In the case of Advair, a pharmaceutical company sacrificed millions of dollars and many years of research developing a medicine that they had no idea of whether it would even be approved by the FDA for use.

If it were not for the reward factor (making a profit), there would be less risk taking. And, if there is less risk taking by pharmaceutical companies, that would be fewer new asthma meds, and less hope for even better meds for the future.


Anonymous said...

I can't help recalling what my doctor said re the research/cost factor. Yes there are millions spent, but much of it is subsidized through what he claimed were gov dollars. The inequality of the system in his opinion is that then drug is then sold to Canada under their cost agreement and the same drug is sold in the US for much more with 25 year patents so they can't go generic. So if I want the drug, It's about 3x more here than in Canada and that gets charged to my insurance company who then passes those costs on to my employer, who every year downgrades our coverage because it costs so much to insure the staff, many of them my age with a daily med or two.

So do I want new drugs, yes. But boy would I like to see a different distribution system.

paceyourselfgirl said...

I'm a little late to the party but had to comment anyway. I agree with you--everyone deserves to make a buck and its those with the deepest pockets that usually get the greater rewards. Big drug companies put out a lot of money for r&d on new drugs so i can appreciate them trying to get a return on their investment. I lost my job (and my insurance) a year ago. In the past year i have made four trips to the emergency room for asthma attacks. the first time i spent three days intubated and on a ventilator in intensive care. Less than two weeks ago i spent five days intubated in icu. Each attack has gotten progressively worse and all because i can't afford the $325 a month for advair. It is the only drug that works for me. So here i sit trying to figure out how i'm going to pay thousands in hospital, doctor and ambulance bills (first time around the total cost was over $42,000. no bills yet for my most recent visit.) I do everything i can to keep myself healthy and out of the hospital--sometimes i probably wait too long to ask for help but i hate accepting anything i can't pay for. If the advair people would just lower the cost by even $150, i'm sure they'd still be making a profit and our local ambulance people (god bless'em) wouldn't know me so well. I'd like to think maybe money wouldn't be the driving force if just once the advair people saw what an attack does to someone like me and the miraculous difference it makes when i'm able to maintain my treatment plan. Thank you for letting me vent.