Medicine, there’s the good, the bad and the ugly. Let’s face it, we’ve just about cured childhood leukemia and polio has almost been eradicated from the face of the earth. The bad news, besides Ebola, is sometimes the side effects of taking life lengthening drugs makes you want to die sooner, just ask any cancer survivor. And the ugly? It’s the business of big pharma and insurance companies in this country.
We’ve all heard about people up in Michigan, who travel across the border to Canada to buy their drugs. The medical community will usually give drug manufacturers a pass for the high costs, believing that the money it takes for research and development to bring a new drug to market offsets the limited time they can be marketed on their patent, before the patent expires and the drug goes generic.
A company must apply for a patent before they go into clinical trials with a new drug, so the usual profit-making time can be whittled down to seven or maybe ten years. Barely enough time to make back their investment, right?
Well Baby Boomers rejoice! There’s a new HepatitisC drug that has virtually erased this virus from the blood stream. And now you can fly to India, first class, purchase this drug and fly back, first class for less than it would cost you to take a course of this liver-saving drug in the good ole USA!
The drug is Sovaldi and it has a 94%+ cure rate, yes CURE…and it doesn’t have the horrible flu-like-side-effects of previous drugs. I know someone who was part of the test study in NC and she has been totally cured after carrying the diagnosis for over 30 years! The drug company, Gilead, just brought the drug to market this summer and so far the results are outstanding.
The problem is, Sovaldi is a thousand dollars a pill! It costs Americans $84,000 for a 12 week course to cure HepC – hence the flight to India scenario. And OK, if you have insurance, or your state has accepted Medicare expansion, well then maybe you can afford to take this drug. I wondered aloud why we haven’t seen a lot of breaking news about this breakthrough cure. After all, chronic HepC affects 150 million people worldwide. It is a slow, silent killer.
If a drug came along that cured 95% of cancers we’d be sure to hear about it.
“Sovaldi is already on track to be one of the world’s biggest-selling drugs, with sales in 2014 – its first full year on the market – set to exceed $11 billion, according to consensus forecasts compiled by Thomson Reuters Cortellis.” http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/09/15/us-gilead-sciences-india-idUSKBN0HA0TT20140915
Bob tells me another drug company is about to release another HepC drug, one that may prove 100% effective in curing HepC. So my cynical mind thinks the reason California-based Gilead is now offering its drug to the developing world at a fraction of the cost ($300 a month in India) is so that it can corner the market on the planet before this new drug is released…or maybe it’s because they are such an altruistic brand? http://blogs.hepmag.com/lucindakporter/2014/04/new_hepatitis_c_drug.html
If you are over 60 it’s probably a good time to ask your doctor for a HepC test. If you needed a blood transfusion during surgery. If you were a soldier in Vietnam, sharing blood with your brothers on the battlefield, or if you dabbled in drugs, sharing needles during a Love-In, you may have been infected. Medical workers who experienced a needle stick, before the advent of HIV-prevention methods, could also have contracted the blood-borne virus. If you had sex with someone who has the virus, at any time over the past 40-50 years. You may not even know it, or show any symptoms until it is too late.
Higher cure rates, fewer side-effects. Let’s hear it for American Big Pharma, and their gigantic profit margins. For me, I’m enjoying Ken Burns’ Roosevelt documentary – http://www.pbs.org/kenburns/films/the-roosevelts – and dreaming about a time when a President could wrangle banks and trusts and bend them to his will! When Teddy brokered peace between Japan and Russia and built a canal through Panama. I wonder what Teddy would do with Sovaldi and Syria?