Friday, April 4, 2014
Behold: The invisible hand of the market commits murder.
Neoliberals insist that the free market (i.e., unregulated) is the only way to go. They assure us that the “invisible hand” of greed will encourage competition and promote efficiency resulting in better and cheaper products.
Instead, it produces monopolies that can kill.
CBS is reporting today:
Sovaldi, a new hepatitis C treatment, can cure up to 90 percent of patients within three months. There’s just one problem: The drug costs $1,000 a day. That price tag has thrown the biotechnology world into turmoil, as lawmakers and insurance companies complain that Sovaldi’s maker is trying to milk desperate patients.
Doctors are understandably finding it hard to pass over a drug that is so effective. As a result, Sovaldi’s manufacturer, Gilead Sciences (GILD), is raking in the dough, while its shares have soared 53 percent over the last year. Sovaldi, in fact, may generate the biggest sales ever for a drug’s first year. It could bring in a jaw-dropping $7 billion to $10 billion in sales this year alone, analysts say.
Hepatitis C can eventually lead to cirrhosis of the liver and liver cancer. With the exception of Sovaldi, there is no cure.
Approximately three million Americans suffer from Hepatitis C. Many of them were infected by intravenous drug use. Many are poor. More than half are veterans, prisoners, uninsured or on Medicaid, according to the New York Times.
The price of Sovaldi has nothing to do with the cost to produce it.
Gilead, which manufactures Sovaldi, charges what it believes the market will bear. For example, it sells it at a 99% discounted price in Egypt.
If someone dies because they cannot afford to pay $1,000 per day, so what?
Gilead could obviously care less.
Gilead wants to tier its pricing based on a country’s per-capita income. So patients in the U.K would pay about $57,000, Reuters reports, while Germans would pay $66,000 and Americans are paying $84,000.
Ain’t capitalism wonderful.
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