Perspective: Your Money Or Your Life?

Nov 28, 2018

In February, the National Economic Council produced a “whitepaper” on prescription drug costs.  I was especially struck by their justification for the sky rocketing cost of prescription drugs.

They argue that any price for a new drug is correct because “a longer life could not be bought at any price and is priceless.”  Therefore, the new drug reduces the price of “a longer and healthier life” to the price set by the Seller.

The logical syllogism asserted is:

With no available drug the “price of health” is “incalculable”;

When a drug becomes available the “price of health” is calculable;

Therefore any drug price less than “incalculable” is a reduced price.

“Contrariwise, continued Tweedledee, if it was so, it might be; and if it were so, it would be; but as it isn’t, it ain’t.  That’s logic.”

Their argument is justification for arbitrary pricing for any drug.  It does not compare Apples to Apples.  The companies are selling drugs, not good health.  When does the drug price become extortion for the “privilege” to live longer?  The equivalent of “Your money or your life?”  The NEC ducks that question.

It says a dose costs the drug company 44 cents in all markets.  In Europe (prices are regulated) a dose retails for 57 cents; in the U.S. for $2.94.  The U.S. is the only country that does not regulate prices of drugs.

We should be happy to pay any price they set even if it bankrupts us. 

That’s sophistry, not logic. 

I’m Karl Winkler and that’s my perspective.