Sunday, 23 March 2014

10:43 – We had a warm sunny day yesterday, but now we’re back to chilly, windy, rainy weather, with lows near or below freezing and snow forecast for Tuesday.

There’s an interesting article in the paper this morning, about people with ObamaCare finding out that it doesn’t cover the drugs they need. The insurance companies are using tiering to avoid covering expensive drugs, and who can blame them? Some of those drugs cost $30,000 to $100,000 a year or more. My attitude is that this is the way it should be. If someone can afford to pay for these drugs and chooses to do so, fine. But forcing others to pay for them is simply wrong. I understand that some people need those drugs, and may die sooner without them. Tough luck. Their need doesn’t give them the right to force everyone else to pay for them.

The real problem is that pharma companies’ economic model makes no sense, and the FDA approval process encourages wasteful development. It can cost literally billions of dollars to develop a new drug and get it through the approval process. And that approval process sets a very low bar. Essentially, the FDA requires only that a new drug be safe and effective. Not safer than existing alternatives, if any. Not more effective than existing alternatives, if any. Merely safe and effective. So we find ourselves in a situation where a new drug that sells for, say, $3,000/month may actually be less safe and less effective than a current drug that sells for $30/month. And you can bet that the pharma company pulls out all the stops to promote their expensive new drug, with splashy ads in magazines and on TV, reps visiting every physician to encourage them to prescribe their new drug, and so on. The pharma companies have little choice. They have to recoup the billions they spent developing that new drug, not to mention the billions and billions more they spent developing new drugs that never made it though trials and the approval process. It’s insane.

I hasten to add that I don’t blame the pharma companies or their researchers. It’s the process itself, mandated by the federal government, that’s broken.