The very bottom line
The bottom line is that industry claims that highly inflated drug prices are necessary to fuel new drug research doesn’t bear close scrutiny. Much of the fundamental research is done in academic settings using public money. The regulatory expense of bringing entirely new drugs to market is high but much of that cost owes to a high attrition rate during clinical trialing which itself owes to fundamental errors in choosing promising candidates. And a growing trend is for pharmaceutical companies to specialize in sales and marketing rather than research and development.
So why then are pharmaceutical companies charging so much? Marcia Angell, former editor-in-chief of The New England Journal of Medicine examined this issue in a recent Washington Post editorial and concluded, “Because they can.”
Until a year ago very few people had ever heard of Martin Shkreli. In 2015 the then-32-year-old CEO of Turing Pharmaceuticals LLC became the poster boy for Big Pharma eXXXcesses when Turing acquired rights to Daraprim, an antiparasitic drug used widely to treat toxoplasmosis. The acquisition itself wasn’t particularly controversial.