Massive cost increases on medication are unacceptable

by | Nov 26, 2015 | Opinion

Serge Halytsky
Senior Reporter

In one day Martin Shkreli became the most hated man in the U.S., even more hated than Walter Palmer, the lion killer.

Shkreli did one thing: increased a price of a 62-year-old drug from $12.50 to $750 for a single pill overnight.

The drug is a standard care solution for treating life-threatening parasitic infection.

What would it do to patients and healthcare institutions? First it will increase the bill for patients. Second, it may force hospitals to seek alternative treatments.

Shkreli had nothing to do with health care or pharmaceuticals in his life.

This kind of astronomical increase is far from being an isolated case.

So why is it happening? Is there any logic behind it, or just a pure greed?

Thinking logically, the drug for its long life probably has a perfectly defined process of production, and there has been no news about any skyrocketing chemical prices.

In a Globe and Mail article, he said: ”It isn’t the greedy drug company trying to gouge patients, it is trying to stay in business.”

This statement does not make sense. The drug was produced through the course of 62 years, and staying in business wasn’t a question until the hedge-fund dude acquired the company.

That is an insult to anyone’s intelligence. By denying greed as the motive, Mr. Shkreli eventually confirms it.

But the problem is that he is not the only one. Other pharmaceutical companies do the same all the time.

Just in the last couple of weeks we since heard the news about the Quebec based Valeant Pharmaceuticals, which increased the cost of essential medications by 2500 per cent, Alexion Pharmaceuticals also increased the prices for the drugs just because they can.

Patients will pay whatever they can and Shkreli is taking advantage of this.

So increasing the price of just about any medication is a crime in my opinion, and should be treated as such if the governments and the World Health Organization had some rules and regulations in place.

The pharmaceutical business should not be used to take advantage of people financially. Drugs are designed to help people be healthy, not to make some “goodfellas” reach, and it is fundamentally wrong if people can’t afford them.

At the end, this must become an election issue. Major political parties should come up with some form of market regulations, to stop certain companies and individuals from profiting on everyone else’s health problems.

The WHO must also adopt some sort of preventive policy so it would not happen that much and that often.

And it would be the best if the problem just ceased to exist.

Unfortunately, pharmaceutical lobbies have lots of power over government, so guys like Shkreli are able to pull whatever they want.

But it shouldn’t be like that.