QUICK READ: There was hope that all the negativity towards pharma would start to evaporate as they worked on a vaccine for COVID-19 but that goodwill is being eroded by an industry whose master is Wall Street, not patients.
Over the last week, two ugly things have once cast the whole pharma industry in a bad light. First, there was the price of remdesivir and second, PhRMA is suing Minnesota in an effort to block a new state law that provides free emergency insulin to patients who can’t afford it.
Gilead Sciences said the price of remdesivir would be $3,120 for patients with private insurance. The amount that patients pay out of pocket depends on insurance, income, and other factors.
“This is a high price for a drug that has not been shown to reduce mortality,” Dr. Steven Nissen of the Cleveland Clinic said in an email. “Given the serious nature of the pandemic, I would prefer that the government take over production and distribute the drug for free. It was developed using significant taxpayer funding.”Marilynn Marchione, SF Gate
Peter Maybarduk, director of Public Citizen’s Access to Medicines Program, called Gilead’s pricing—which works out to around $520 per dose for non-government buyers like hospitals—”an offensive display of hubris and disregard for the public” and slammed the Trump administration for failing to ensure that the price of a drug developed with substantial taxpayer support is affordable for all.
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) condemned Gilead’s price-tag as “beyond disgusting.” “Taxpayers provided funding for the development of this drug. Now Gilead is price-gouging off it during a pandemic,” said Sanders. “Coronavirus treatment must be free to all.”
Gilead has been in financial trouble with the Street wondering where it’s growth is going to come from after sales of their HEP-C drug declined due to competition. The buzz on social media is in high gear on this right now.
To make matters worse PhRMA did the unconscionable. They are suing Minnesota in an effort to block a new state law that provides free emergency insulin to patients who can’t afford it. They allege that the law is unconstitutional because it would take drugmakers’ private property for public use without just compensation, according to a complaint filed Tuesday in the U.S. District Court for the District of Minnesota.
The group claims the law, which took effect Wednesday, violates the Takings Clause of the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments.
The four most common types of insulin have seen their prices soar, with the average price per month rising to $450 in 2016, according to the Health Care Cost Institute.
PhRMA’s complaint blames high insulin prices on insurance companies, pharmacy benefit managers, the government, and others. It pointed to drugmakers’ “robust” affordability programs, arguing that their discounts and other legally available alternatives are better than being forced to give insulin away for free.
You can bet the ranch that the media is going to pick up on this and the spotlight of “bad pharma” will once again. shine bright. What bothers me is that not one pharma company has spoken out saying this “is wrong”. The industry just doesn’t get it.