The Obama administration is sponsoring a forum this week on the problem of high drug prices. The purpose is presumably to express concern about a rapidly growing problem for both people in the United States and around the world. But the reasons for skepticism are obvious.
Why all the uproar about drug prices? People feel differently about drugs, and many other health care products than they do about other things that get bought and sold. And it's precisely this attitude that has made many governmental health care programs so complicated.
Pharmaceutical companies had a chance to be part of the solution -- they could have innovated amazing cures. They could have worked to solve major health care crises and earned a place of honor among the world's greatest problem solvers. Instead they chose profit over humanity.
This problem will not be fixed by slapping a big fine on Volkswagen. The problem is bigger than that. The problem lies with the system itself. We must decide whether our system should serve the interests of people, or profits. Right now, profits are winning.
One in three Americans will have some form of cancer. And, even with insurance, they typically will end up bearing 20 to 30 percent of the cost of their cancer drugs. Insurers have no ability to rein in prices so insurers simply shift more drug costs to their members.
Many people with Medicare find that they are paying a hefty amount for their drugs, even with prescription drug coverage. Drug companies have considerable power to set high prices for many drugs. Here are tips for keeping your costs down.
What -- if anything -- can be done about a situation that forces patients to choose between two undesirable options: risk succumbing to a preventable illness or pay the exorbitant amounts the companies are charging?
Doctors don't know, pharmacists barely know, and patients have almost no choice of what they're allowed to buy. Do you really think any of these bizarre prices would survive the light of day if people knew? Well, now you do know. Let's find out.
For people who were blown away to learn recently that the 11 largest global pharmaceutical companies made an astonishing $711 billion in profits over the last decade, here's another measure of the industry's greed.