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Companies Must Not Place Pharmaceutical Profits Ahead Of People’s Health

Forbes: Why Martin Shkreli’s Price Hike May Hurt Everyone … Including You And The Pharmaceutical Industry
Bruce Y. Lee, associate professor of international health at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, director of the Global Obesity Prevention Center, and director of operations research at the International Vaccine Access Center

“Why should you care if former hedge fund manager and current pharmaceutical executive Martin Shkreli plans to raise the price of benznidazole, a treatment for Chagas disease, by potentially over 100,000 percent? … Shkreli’s medication price hikes could end up hurting many industries and sectors, most notably the biotechnology and pharmaceutical industry. … Raising the price of a medication (especially one that people desperately need) may seem like an easy method of quickly raising profits. … But such profits could be very ephemeral and lead to a series of increasing ripples throughout the pharmaceutical industry. And since health is integral to all that we do, the health care industry is to intimately integrated through all of society. Therefore, a strong ripple in the pharmaceutical industry could eventually become a tidal wave for all” (12/16).

Project Syndicate: America’s Real Drug Problem
Akash Goel, a physician and journalist, and Prashant Yadav, director of health care research at the William Davidson Institute at the University of Michigan

“…In addition to raising worries about the [toxoplasmosis drug Daraprim’s] availability, the move [of the drug’s marketing rights to Turing Pharmaceuticals, which resulted in price hikes,] exposes one of the great flaws of the U.S. health care system: profits can be — and often are — placed ahead of people. … Most people would expect life-saving medications to be treated differently from consumer goods … But no such distinction exists in the U.S. Indeed, the U.S. is the only developed country that allows drug makers to set their own prices. … Turing’s attempt to profit at the expense of those suffering from HIV [and other diseases] has clearly shown that regulators and drug manufacturers need to explore new ways of doing business. Access to life-saving medicines should not depend on the extent of one person’s benevolence. Rather, we should work to embed in our institutions practices and policies that safeguard the interests of patients” (12/14).

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Filling the need for trusted information on national health issues, the Kaiser Family Foundation is a nonprofit organization based in Menlo Park, California.