Pharma indifferent to criticism?

KEY TAKEAWAY: When trade news publications start to question pharma practices on pricing and there is no response you have to wonder if they really care about the patients we serve at all.

The headline in STAT news pretty much said it all “Trump fumes at drug makers for many reasons. This pharma exec (and Trump donor) embodies them”.

They went on to say ”

[inlinetweet prefix=”” tweeter=”” suffix=””]President Trump says drug makers are “getting away with murder” — and these days, there are few companies that better embody his frustrations than Celgene[/inlinetweet].

The drug maker keeps lots of cash overseas. It does some of its manufacturing abroad. Three times this year, it’s hiked the price of its best-selling cancer drug. And the man presiding over the company, Bob Hugin, donates lots of money to “political people,” which Trump has blasted as a bald attempt to curry favor with the establishment. (Though, inconveniently, Hugin has also donated to Trump himself.)

Celgene has raised the price of its leading cancer drug almost 20% this year under the guise that they need the money to develop new drugs which is BS because R&D is being replaced by buyouts of smaller companies.

Now I get that most pharma CEO’s earn a lot of money and cozy up to Wall Street but what about the rank and file under them?  Do these people tell themselves the PhRMA lie about the “value” their drugs bring to society in order to cash their paychecks with a clear conscience?

I love the industry and have done a lot of Pro Bono work because I embrace challenges and take an empathetic view of patients who often get lost in our health care system.  I just don’t understand why the industry continues to ignore the concerns of the public.

[inlinetweet prefix=”” tweeter=”” suffix=””]As cancer drug costs rise, U.S. cancer patients are more likely than other medical patients to struggle with paying for prescription medications[/inlinetweet], according to a recent study.  The prices of cancer-treating drugs are on the rise and a newer cancer medication can cost over $100,000 per year for each patient, the study team writes in the journal Cancer. In addition, higher insurance deductibles and copayments can mean that patients are paying more out of pocket for medications.

With new cancer drugs commonly priced at $100,000 a year or more hundreds of thousands of cancer patients are delaying care, cutting their pills in half or skipping drug treatment entirely, a Kaiser Health News examination shows.

[inlinetweet prefix=”” tweeter=”” suffix=””]One-quarter of all cancer patients chose not to fill a prescription due to cost[/inlinetweet], according to a 2013 study in The Oncologist. And about 20 percent filled only part of a prescription or took less than the prescribed amount. Given that more than 1.6 million Americans are likely to be diagnosed with cancer this year, that suggests 168,000 to 405,000 ration their own prescription use.

It would be so easy for pharma CEO’s to hold a joint press event and inform the public that “under no circumstances should anyone enter financial consequences because of our drugs” but that would of course make the Street very unhappy.