Column: Patients before profit
Pharmaceutical companies have charged obscenely high rates for their products in the U.S. The American people deserve affordable medicine to treat their illnesses.
In the world of health care, patients should always come before special interests.
Humans have a desire to survive, and in some cases, that requires the assistance of pharmaceutical drugs to do so. With medicine prices being so high, some people are basically being denied the right to live. The U.S. pays around seven times as much as the United Kingdom for drugs, according to the Washington Post. Hepatitis C treatment in the U.S. is priced at $84,000, but in Egypt, you could pay that much and have the same treatment, plus a luxury vacation.
There are a few factors that contribute to the high drug prices in the U.S. For starters, pharmaceutical companies have complete reign here, unlike anywhere else. They have the ability to dictate their prices with little government intervention, according to TIME. Without governmental restrictions, nothing protects the people from prices skyrocketing.
Government laws allow pharmaceutical companies to maintain control over the market because they’re the only ones who can manufacture patented drugs. This reduces competition, which means that consumers have no option but to buy their product, which often comes at a hefty price.
The government sitting on the sidelines is the biggest issue. Without the government negotiating on behalf of citizens, pharmaceutical companies can get away with almost whatever price gouging they want.
It is true that high prices will allow the companies to invest the money back to their research and development to make more innovations, but this still doesn’t explain why the U.S. is charged so much more than other developed nations. This would suggest that the U.S. has taken on the challenge of financing medicine development for the whole world.
With the baby boomers' generation advancing in age, the number of people who are in need of medicine is through the roof. According to the 2010 census, 13 percent of the population is 65 years or older. It’s a daunting task to treat these people when prices for medication are so unreasonable.
With Donald Trump declared the winner of the 2016 U.S. Presidential election, what could this mean for pharmaceutical companies and their impact on the American people?
President-elect Trump has stated multiple times during his campaign that he wants to allow the U.S. government to negotiate with pharmaceutical companies. He also wants to allow drugs that are manufactured abroad to be sold in the U.S., as another means to wrestle control from the pharmaceutical companies here.
By creating a competitive market, prices will surely lower, as consumers will choose the product with the best bang for their buck. However, it’s important to keep in mind that money should never be a barrier in caring for a patient.
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