Can you put a price tag on someone's life? Apparently if you're "Big Pharma," you can do whatever the heck you want.
It's not a mystery when someone is fighting a deadly disease, like cancer, aggressive treatment accompanied by a combination of medications are necessary for survival. But what do you do when those drugs that you need in order to have a chance at living are so expensive that you must choose between potentially bankrupting yourself and your loved ones, or potentially dying?
It's not a decision that any person wants to, or should have to, make. But it is a choice that people unfortunately have to make because of the price jump in one particular cancer fighting drug.
The patent for the cancer fighting drug formerly known as Lomustine, was purchased by NextSource Biotechnology from Bristol-Myers Squibb. NextSource not only changed the name of the drug to Gleostine, but they also changed the price point of the drug, making it virtually unafforadable to anyone without a thick wallet.
When the drug was owned and produced by Bristol-Myers Squibb, it cost around $50 a capsule for the average person. Once it changed hands, NextSource decided they needed to increase profits, and over the course of four yeas, they raised the price by nearly 1,400 per cent, to a whopping $768 per capsule.
The question is why?
The drug, which is used to help fight a number of different forms of cancer, including, lung cancer, lymphoma, melanomas, and brain tumors, has been prescribed by doctors for over 40 years.
When asked about why the price of the drug has skyrocketed, NextSource's, chief executive Robert DiCrisci said, "the pricing is simply based on development costs, regulatory fees, and the benefit the drug provides. " He also added that "poorer people and those without healthcare are given a discount."
While that is well and good, there is no exact figures on how much of a discount these "poor" people will be getting. Regardless of financial standing, $768 for a single pill is far too much to pay for anyone.
The patent on the drug has recently expired, which has led the FDA to encourage other drug manufacturers to start producing their own versions of it, with hopes that generic brand would make it more affordable for the people who desperately need it.
Should drug companies be allowed to put whatever price they want on a person's life?