Sunday, September 25, 2011

Drug Company Shortages create Demand, Big Profits. Never Ending Supply of Needy American Users Guarantees Healthy Industry.

Remember when Republicans defended the high drugs because America was the leader in developing new cures the rest of the world depended on? They were actually arguing against the importation of lower priced drugs from Canada and Europe.

But what happens when those drugs are no longer available, or triple in price due to artificial shortages driven by corporate profit taking?

People die or go through unnecessary pain, for profit. This is the best health care system in the world?

So goes the free market model and the freedom we’re told will make our lives better. How free is a person who can’t get or can’t afford the drugs they need to stay alive?

We’re the only country that has allowed profiteering off the ill-health of its citizens. Sounds horrific, but if you believe the hype, this is what the founding fathers envisioned.  
A drug for dangerously high blood pressure, normally priced at $25.90 per dose, offered to hospitals for $1,200. Fifteen deaths in 15 months blamed on shortages of life-saving medications … A growing crisis in the availability of drugs for chemotherapy, infections and other serious ailments is endangering patients and forcing hospitals to buy from secondary suppliers at huge markups because they can't get the medications any other way.

This is why we pay more for drugs here than any other country?
An Associated Press review of industry reports and interviews with nearly two dozen experts found the shortages – mainly of injected generic drugs that ordinarily are cheap – have delayed surgeries and cancer treatments, left patients in unnecessary pain and caused hospitals to give less effective treatments. That's resulted in complications and longer hospital stays.

Cab market forces be trusted to do the right thing for Americans?
Hospital pharmacists "are really looking at this as a crisis. They are scrambling to find drugs" … At a hearing before the health subcommittee of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, hospital officials and other experts testified that the worsening shortages are preventing them from giving many patients the best care and are driving up costs. So far, hospitals have been absorbing the extra costs, but they'll soon have to start passing them on to insurers and patients, according to the American Hospital Association.

Will the increase in insurance premiums be blamed on the this, or more likely, Obama’s Affordable Care Act?
The scarcity of mainstay cancer drugs is not only hurting patients but is halting or disrupting clinical studies of potential new treatments, said Dr. Robert S. DiPaola told the committee … Michael Cohen, a pharmacist attributes at least 15 recent deaths to drug shortages … The average price markup was at least double the normal price, the survey found. 

The free market knows how to sell the shortages:
The pitches hospitals get from secondary distributors generally say they have small batches of specific drugs that are hard or impossible to find. "Are you enjoying this crazy `roller coaster ride' of pharmaceutical shortages? ... I utilize over 60 vendors to locate and procure needed pharmaceuticals to assist when you have shortage needs," one reads.

And since we allow businesses to make money on the sick and dying;
There's no federal law against price-gouging on prescription drugs, according to the FDA, but it does urge pharmacists to report cases to its Office of Criminal Investigation. "Something has to be done here," said pharmacist Michael O'Neal, "This is unethical. We're talking about people's lives."

No, we’re talking about corporate profits. Get your priorities straight. 

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