Should the market decide drug prices?

No. Holy fucking shit no. And I don’t care about the fact that Frothy said it to a sick kid, it’s the policy itself that’s maddening.

“People have no problem paying $900 for an iPad,” Santorum said, “but paying $900 for a  drug they have a problem with — it keeps you alive. Why? Because you’ve been conditioned to think health care is something you can get without having to pay for it.”

“You have that drug, and maybe you’re alive today because people have a profit motive to make that drug,” Santorum said. “There are many people sick today who, 10 years from now, are going to be alive because of some drug invented in the next 10 years. If we say: ‘You drug companies are greedy and bad, you can’t make a return on your money,’ then we will freeze innovation.”

There are two rather gigantic, glaring, amusing, horrifying problems with this here. Three, actually.

First up, people are willing to spend a couple hundred on an iPad or a TV because, theoretically, that should last you for a few years. If someone requires say, $150 per month of some drug, that’s $900 every six months, and people just aren’t spending that kind of money on an iPad twice a year. If you told someone that for $900 they could have a drug that will keep them alive, and that the drug lasts as long as they’re willing to take care of it, no one would complain.

Side note, iPads cost less than $500, so what the hell?

Second point, life-saving drugs aren’t as elastic in price as electronic doo-dads. Remember the Playstation 3? It cost $600 when it came out, now you can get one for half. Why? The market wasn’t big on that price. The Nintendo Wii, meanwhile, cost $200 and sold like crazy. That’s because there’s a limit to what people will spend on toys. There aren’t too many people who are going to say “well I need this to stay alive, but eh, screw it that’s too expensive I’ll just die instead.” People kinda need to stay alive, so if you let “the market” control everything, then you’ll have crazy things like drugs that cost $4 to make but sell for $200 a bottle. Oops, that’s already the case.

Finally, Ricky’s point that without being allowed to make billions of dollars, drug companies won’t innovate in making medication to save lives kinda proves that they are greedy assholes. We’re not talking pro athletes or real estate agents. Ostensibly, the driving force behind innovation and production is the desire to better people’s lives, and the money made is a bonus so long as you’re not driving yourself into the poorhouse. It’s the same as the doctor argument that if they can’t make $6mil a year they’ll have no motive to do it. The defense implies that the accusation is true.

Health is not a commodity. Medicine isn’t a capitalist venture. Worst of all, I find it heavily aggravating that I’m taking a more Jesus-like stance than the supposed strong family Christian Republican candidates. If Christ popped on in today and heard what the GOP crop is saying, he’d ask if he could take back that whole “dying for our sins” thing.

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3 responses to “Should the market decide drug prices?

  1. If we were operating on a Free Market standard, then we could negotiate with Canada and Mexico for cheaper drugs. 

  2. Rick Santorum’s health system pays for all the drugs he’ll ever need, does it not? How nice for him. With all the $$$$ he saves, he can buy 10 new Ipads a year!

    I never thought about drugs (legal ones, that is) until I suddenly got really sick in 1995 and was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. The doctor from hell told me I’d have to start taking drugs that would cost $10,000 a year. I said, “For how long?” He said, “For the rest of your life.” I thought, “Wait? You mean today’s drugs aren’t designed to cure your disease? They’re designed to keep you buying for the rest of your life?” (I’m in marketing, and this happened to be the marketing maxim of the day–Don’t sell a product people will only buy once! Sell a product that’s designed to keep them buying more from you. Another marketing maxim is get people to buy by appealing to their fear.)
    So I started paying attention to TV ads for pharmaceuticals, and over and over it was the same message, in a smarmy voice reeking of pseudo-regret and false comfort: “ToxiProfitus can’t cure your [hemorrhoids/cancer/erectile disfunction/ alzheimers/migraines/pimples], but it CAN help you control it.”

    Brilliant! I found another doctor, who actually treated my ms, told me I might have a partial recovery from my debilitating symptoms, and that if I didn’t want to take the $10,000/year drugs, that we could hold off for a while and see what happened without them. I had a 100% recovery from my symptoms, and except for severe fatigue, I’ve been virtually symptom free for the last, oh, 17 years. 

    Then I kept reading articles about how MS patients who refused these drugs might feel ok, but meanwhile the disease would be wreaking havoc with their nervous systems and one day they’d be sorry.

    But the only thing I’m sorry for is the fact that whenever I read/hear anything about Big Pharma, I am compelled to go off on a rant like this one. Is there a drug for that?

  3. The survey and price list of nintendo will be very help-full for all videogame players.

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