In case you missed it, you should read Elisabeth Rosenthal’s recent New York Times article “The Soaring Cost of a Simple Breath.” If you ever buy prescription drugs or if you think you might at some point (aka everybody), then this article is a perfect example of how “good for some, bad for all” affects our medicine and our prescription drugs. Here is a good summation of the article by the author:
Unlike other countries, where the government directly or indirectly sets an allowed national wholesale price for each drug, the United States leaves prices to market competition among pharmaceutical companies, including generic drug makers. But competition is often a mirage in today’s health care arena — a surprising number of lifesaving drugs are made by only one manufacturer — and businesses often successfully blunt market forces.
The “good for some and bad for all” here is obvious: we value for-profit moneyed interests over the well-being of our sick, our elderly, and our most vulnerable citizens. Is this any surprise when we have a government fueled by lobbyists and corporate PACs? Our priorities in Washington have gone awry. Our politicians are no longer representing the people – instead, they represent the big moneyed special interests that put and keep them in power.
What is particularly striking is that over 95% of pharmaceutical manufacturing spending to Congressional candidates is spent on incumbents ($2,286,450 so far in the 2014 cycle - Source: OpenSecrets.org). The industry is spending millions on preserving the status quo and resisting change. It happens with our health, the environment, food, gun regulation, immigration, low wages, schools, our tax code and war.
Asthma affects 1 in 12 people in the United States. According to the New York Times, asthma was the cause of more than 3,300 deaths, many involving patients who skimped on medicines or simply went without due to the high cost. And why?
“Our regulatory and approval system seems constructed to achieve high-priced outcomes,” said Dr. Peter Bach, the director of the Center for Health Policy and Outcomes at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center. “We don’t give any reason for drug makers to charge less.”
And taxpayers and patients bear the consequences. And that means us.