The Pharmaceutical Industry and Drug Pricing

Despite being used for over a 100 years, the price of insulin in the US has become over 10 times its price 20 years ago, a report by the Committee on Energy and Commerce reported earlier this year. Indeed, insulin and more drugs are constantly being marked up and sold at higher prices here in the US. So why are pharmaceutical companies constantly increasing their prices? Drug prices are increased by pharmaceutical companies to help them maximize their profits, leading to sicker and poorer consumers.

Looking into drug pricing, we realize that pharmaceutical companies increase the prices of drugs so that they can maximize profits. According to Modern Healthcare, “The drug industry spends just one-fifth of its revenue on R&D… [spending] twice as much on marketing and overhead and takes home more in profits than it spends on R&D.” Brand-name drugs that cure specific ailments are the easiest to mark up.

All this considered, as drug prices increase, it is the people who suffer. Because patients cannot afford these drugs, often all they can do is not take medicine. For example, a Kaiser Health News Report shows that, “thousands of cancer patients are delaying care, cutting their pills in half or skipping drug treatment entirely.” Pharmaceutical companies aren’t helping with this at all – take Turing Pharmaceutical. It acquired the American marketing rights to a 62-year-old drug to treat a devastating parasitic infection (Daraprim) and raised the cost of one pill to $750 from $13.50!   That brought the cost of a course of treatment for some patients to hundreds of thousands of dollars. This can leave many consumers potentially in debt as they are unable to pay for their medications. Others may not even buy the medications that they need and suffer instead.

Clearly, drug pricing is a serious threat to many patients. However, not all hope is lost as companies like Cigna’s Express Scripts is trying to cap off all insulin prescriptions to a certain price. According to NPR, “Cigna’s chief clinical officer, says [that the program] ‘caps the copay for a patient at $25 a month for their insulin.” The program covers roughly 1.4 million people who need insulin, already fighting of high drug prices. While this is a start, it is not enough as countless people continue to suffer. We must petition to create more programs like this but also tackle companies head-on, forcing them to reduce their prices through protests and more.

Indubitably, pharmaceutical companies constantly increase their prices, helping them gain extremely high revenues. While they profit, patients and consumers are forced to pay far too much for drugs that they need. These drugs may have cured patients but they also bring a curse upon them, making patients fall into debt and worse. By pushing forward with more plans like Cigna’s, we fight off large costs for consumers. This has gone on for too long, making it imperative that we act immediately. After all, why should we pay for more than our money’s worth?

About the Author:

Sadhana Chari is currently a rising freshman. She enjoys reading books and watching Netflix in her spare time.