June 1, 2015 - A Bad Day for Big-Pharma PR
6/5/2015 3:19 PM
By Dan Sweeney, Director
Institute for Enterprise Ethics
On Monday, June I, the Wall Street Journal ran two items decrying big pharma’s manufacturing and pricing practices that are denying many cancer patients of their needed medicines. Manufacturing and pricing are two very basic functions of any production business and should have been mastered in the companies’ infancies. However, both France’s Sanofi SA and U.S.-based Merck & Co., the only two manufacturers of BCG, a lifesaving cancer treatment, have been unable to keep the product in adequate supply for over two years. It is irresponsible for the only two producers of a potentially life-saving drug cannot manage their manufacturing processes in a manner to keep adequate supplies available.
Also on June1, the Wall Street Journal reported on a speech by a leading cancer specialist at one of the most important medical meetings in the U.S. decrying the exorbitant level and rate of increase in the price of crucial cancer medicines.
“These drugs cost too much,” Leonard Saltz, chief of gastrointestinal oncology at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, said in a speech heard by thousands of doctors here for the annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology.” Dr. Saltz also “…cited statistics showing that the median monthly price for new cancer drugs in the U.S. had more than doubled in inflation-adjusted dollars from $4,716 in the period from 2000 through 2004 to roughly $9,900 from 2010 through 2014. Dr. Saltz cited studies showing that the price increases haven’t corresponded to increases in the drugs’ effectiveness.” It is, in this observer’s opinion callous and immoral to price a product on which people’s lives depend at whatever the market will bear. Who are these people who make the determination which economic segment of the population gets to continue living and who has to die for want of financial resources?
Big Pharma is a very large, very sophisticated industry, and one on whom many, many people depend for their lives. They need to take this responsibility much more seriously and pay much more attention to the basics of their business: manufacturing and pricing.