Pharma industry: It’s just a business

The purpose of any business is to make money, but can a corporation satisfy Wall Street and benefit the public it serves? Big oil, for example, has prioritized profits resulting in high gas prices. Medical expenses often hinder patients long after they have left the hospital. Why do prescription drugs need to cost so much?

The idea that pharma companies need high prices to continue to develop new drugs has been debunked many times. They need high prices to satisfy investors and Wall Street, but we all pay for these high prices.

Most pharma companies pay very well, especially top executives. Some CEOs earn millions of dollars in direct compensation plus some perks. I have seen pharma employees there because of their packages and others who believe in what they’re doing. Unfortunately, too many, who seek high salaries, bounce from a pharma company to a pharma company doing their jobs but trying too hard to “fit in” rather than change company cultures. However, change has to come from the top.

Many pharma companies offer “help” for people who can’t afford to pay for their medications, but what about those who don’t qualify and still need help? I can’t understand why all pharma companies don’t unite to address this problem. Having one profit-free company that acts as a distribution center for people who can’t afford drugs puzzles me. The government could help by allowing tax breaks to companies that donate medications to those who can’t afford them.

It seems that the pharma industry could care less about what people think about them. When 80% of voters want lower drug prices, PhRMA hands out record lobbying money to politicians. Some politicians have bought into the myth that lower prices will hurt innovation. They’re too lazy to do some research and believe PhRMA’s talking points which go against the prevailing political winds.

It’s true that prescription drugs are only found for $.12 of every healthcare dollar sold and that the industry is in the media spotlight, just as it’s true that patients would instead take a pill than make lifestyle changes to address some chronic health issues. Still, the prices of new cancer drugs have gone off the charts, and while cancer death rates are declining, how much money is enough?

I love the industry and cringe when I read negative stories because no amount of public relations can rationalize $117,000 for a new prostate cancer drug.

This year we learned that many corporations are reporting record profits under the guise of inflationary pricing. However, more people are purchasing private-label products in the CPG sector. Will you argue if your doctor tells you that you need a specific drug? Will the CEO of Regeneron take less money so more patients can access their products? No.

I’m just too much of an idealist, but I’ve listened to people talk about healthcare in research and want to do something about it rather than blame it on our system. The pharma industry will change because they have ignored patient and marketplace changes for too long. The tech industry finally realized it had too many people and started laying off staff. I foresee that happening within the big pharma companies very soon. After all, it’s a business.