"Big Pharma" strikes again

Sep 2012
15,114
20,054
SoCal
This is unconscionable...this is the same shit that Shkreli pulled.

This old drug was free...now it $109,500 a year

For decades, Don Anderson of Seattle has been taking the same drug to help control the temporary bouts of immobility and muscle weakness caused by a rare and frightening genetic illness called periodic paralysis.

“It's like putting a 50-pound pack on your back and standing up at the dinner table,” Anderson, 73, said. “It's like wearing lead shoes around all the time.”

The drug Anderson has been taking all these years was originally approved in 1958 and used primarily to treat the eye disease glaucoma under the brand name Daranide, its price so unremarkable that he can't quite remember how much it cost at the pharmacy counter.

But the price has been on a roller coaster in recent years — zooming from a list price of $50 for a bottle of 100 pills in the early 2000s up to $13,650 in 2015, then plummeting back down to free, before skyrocketing back up to $15,001 after a new company, Strongbridge Biopharma, acquired the drug and relaunched it this spring.
 
Last edited:
Feb 2011
17,224
6,211
Boise, ID
This is unconscionable...this is the same shit that Shkreli pulled.

This old drug was free...now it $109,500 a year
Did you read your own link? The drug is apparently still free. The guy the article is about gets his drug for free. From the company. The guy says he is grateful.

The article said the company had $2.5 million in sales from the drug last quarter. If the average annual cost per patient is $109,500, and their sales last quarter were $2.5 million, it means insurance companies collectively are paying for this drug for about 90 people. Insurance companies pay over $109,500 for hospital stays literally all the time. I'm not saying the price of the drug is justified, but when you do the math, you realize this drug is a speck on the radar. An unnoticable drop in the bucket to insurers.

Ask yourself why insurance companies would agree to pay these outrageous prices. Think about it for just a second. Why would they agree? It's because the conditions they treat are rare. The insurance company is making a calculated gamble that they won't actually have to pay for this drug very often if at all because the condition it treats is so rare. It's why all the world's most expensive drugs treat extreeeemely rare conditions. If the conditions were common and a drug priced this way were covered, the insurance company would go bankrupt within the quarter. You know they wouldn't let that happen. They would laser the drug from their formularies, patients wouldn't pay for it, the drug would not sell. It would expire on the shelves.

These companies are playing a game with insurers to try to score short-term profits and excite investors by getting insurance companies to agree to crazy prices, and they will sometimes... if the disease that justifies the prescription is sufficiently rare. But in other cases, insurers won't cover the drug, even if the condition it treats is rare, as in the example of the dude in the article. His insurance refuses to cover it. So the drug company literally gives it to him for free. They're not holding a gun to suffering patients' heads, they're playing a chess game with insurance actuaries, and if they lose, they give away their product to the patient, and pass the drug on to the next company and say "here, go for it, you try wringing a profit out of these insurance assholes with this thing."
 
Last edited:
Jul 2015
33,765
25,483
Florida
Did you read your own link? The drug is apparently still free. The guy the article is about gets his drug for free. From the company. The guy says he is grateful.

The article said the company had $2.5 million in sales from the drug last quarter. If the average annual cost per patient is $109,500, and their sales last quarter were $2.5 million, it means insurance companies collectively are paying for this drug for about 90 people. Insurance companies pay over $109,500 for hospital stays literally all the time. I'm not saying the price of the drug is justified, but when you do the math, you realize this drug is a speck on the radar. An unnoticable drop in the bucket to insurers.

Ask yourself why insurance companies would agree to pay these outrageous prices. Think about it for just a second. Why would they agree? It's because the conditions they treat are rare. The insurance company is making a calculated gamble that they won't actually have to pay for this drug very often if at all because the condition it treats is so rare. It's why all the world's most expensive drugs treat extreeeemely rare conditions. If the conditions were common and a drug priced this way were covered, the insurance company would go bankrupt within the quarter. You know they wouldn't let that happen. They wouldn't cover the drug, patients wouldn't pay for it, hence the drug would not sell. It would expire on the shelves.

These companies are playing a game with insurers to try to score short-term profits and excite investors by getting insurance companies to agree to crazy prices, and they will sometimes... if the disease that justifies the prescription is sufficiently rare. But in other cases, insurers won't cover the drug, even if the condition it treats is rare, as in the example of the dude in the article. His insurance refuses to cover it. So the drug company literally gives it to him for free.
So everyone who needs the drug gets it for free?
 
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Southern Dad

Former Staff
Feb 2015
40,882
8,619
Shady Dale, Georgia
Actually read the article? Novel concept.


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