(Genentech recently started a new add campaign some argue is designed to fend off criticism of its drug pricing. Click here [pdf] for an example.)
Unlike other patients writing to you, I am fortunate to be in good health. But, that can change at any minute, which makes me happy that companies like Genentech are out there developing cutting edge treatments. What concerns me, however, are recent reports suggesting that money matters more to your company than improving and saving lives. Genentech is enjoying astronomical profits. Yet, you’re developing price points for new drugs like Avastin that are as aggressive as the cancers it is designed to fight. What’s so shocking is that these prices are not justified by traditional measures such as recouping research and development costs, but, as your president of product development told the New York Times, “the value of innovation, the value of new therapies.”
Are your patients’ health little more than widgets to you, abstract commodities to be priced to generate maximum return to shareholders? Do you sleep well at night knowing that your actions are creating conditions where the market determines who lives and who dies? And, what does this pricing mean for your future biomedical innovations? Are you, for example, planning to tell the parents of a newly paralyzed teenager that you have a new stem cell therapy to treat their child and that if they value his walking, they’ll find a way to cough up the $100,000 since that’s the market value of human mobility? While this may be a drop in the bucket for the very rich and the very poor many benefit from your assistance programs, the vast majority of us in the middle will be forced to make very difficult decisions over whether to reverse mortgage our homes, engage the viatical market, or simply allow death or injury to take their course so as to not be financial burdens to loved ones.
I am certainly not the only one outraged by this. People have become accustomed to being priced out of certain homes, cars, and other amenities. But being priced out of life?
Posted in Biotech & Pharma, Osagie Obasogie's Blog Posts
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