KEY TAKEAWAY: For profit healthcare can work, but changes have to occur to ensure that those who cannot afford expensive medications or health insurance can still have the same chance of recovery as Americans who are financially well off.
Mylan increases the cost of the EpiPen over 450% to the point that some patients are going back to using syringes. Aetna decides to pull out of Obamacare because the government dared challenge their merger with Humana. Veterans who have Hep-C can’t always get access to medication to cure them because the VA doesn’t have the budget to pay for $1000 a day pills. Something is very wrong here.
In conversations with industry insiders, they talk of a time when the pharma industry was “less of a business” and more of a healthcare organization. Some blame the approval of DTC marketing in the 90’s as a reason, but most think it’s because health care leadership is too focused on pleasing Wall Street while earning millions of dollars in salary and bonuses.
I know that there are a lot of very hard working people within healthcare who believe in helping patients, but their voices are often silenced by executives who desire to please Wall Street. How do you think the employees or Mylan and Gilead feel when they know that patients can’t afford their products? Aetna decides to throw a hissy fit because the government dared challenge their merger with another large insurer. Will employees believe senior executives as they spin their stories?
The drug industry, to their credit, does give away billions of dollars in drugs to people who can’t afford them, but we are in the days of hashtag activism where anyone who has access to the Internet can assign blame and find a following. However, too many drug company CEO’s are earning tens of millions of dollars as their stock prices go up while patients decide on food or medicine.
The answer, perhaps, lies in a new type of leadership that understands that what we can do is not necessarily what we should do. Raising the price of the EpiPen over 450% and saying it’s because of the investment is pure BS.
Changes are coming, and in all likelihood they will be forced upon an industry that has become obsessed with profit. All I can say is “it’s about time”.