Thursday, March 10, 2011

Capitalist Health Care at Its Finest

Pregnant woman getting a shotSo much angrifying news in one day -- Wisconsin's legislative outrage, NPR's implosion, and Peter King's hearings -- but the thing I find myself drawn to write about is this abbreviated wire story from the Pioneer Press, headlined $10 Preemie Preventive Now $1,500:

ATLANTA — The price of preventing preterm labor is about to go through the roof.

A drug for high-risk pregnant women has cost about $10 to $20 per injection. Next week, the price of the progesterone shot, which is administered weekly, will be $1,500 a dose.

The drug known as Makena has been made cheaply for years, mixed at pharmacies that do custom-compound treatments. But recently, KV Pharmaceutical of suburban St. Louis won government approval to sell the drug exclusively.

Many obstetricians supported the switch for the sake of consistent quality. But no one anticipated the dramatic price hike, especially since the cost for development was shouldered by others in the past.

'That's a huge increase for something that can't be costing them that much to make. For crying out loud, this is about making money,' said Dr. Roger Snow at Massachusetts' Medicaid program.

'I've never seen anything as outrageous as this,' said Dr. Arnold Cohen, an obstetrician at Albert Einstein Medical Center in Philadelphia.
So that's a 750 to 1,500% increase in price for practically no change in the product -- just some marketing and administrative overhead. And lots of profit for the clever company whose purpose is "developing, acquiring and licensing innovative and quality products." From this news, it sounds like it's mostly about acquiring and licensing, then extorting the maximum possible out of people who need health care.

Possibly in reaction to this bad press, KV Pharmaceutical's home page recently announced their "Comprehensive Assistance Plan for Makena." This includes making it available with "just" a $20 copay for insured patient. For the uninsured who make under $60,000 a year, it's free, and for those who make between $60,000 and $100,000 it's $20.

That's so much better, right? It means only all those uninsured women with incomes over $100,000 will have to pay the $1,500 a week out of pocket. Leaving aside the absurdity of setting up a drug pricing plan that requires pregnant ladies to file a Free Application for Federal Student Aid form to get their discounted drugs, this is a blatant money grab. Who'll be paying the big bucks for the drugs?

Insurance companies, that's who, and that means we'll all pay for it in higher rates.

This is a great example of the sociopathic nature of corporations under capitalism. Their only responsibility is to maximize shareholder value, just like Ted Bundy's only goal was to maximize his narcissistic pleasure.

And they got rewarded for it twice: KV Pharmaceuticals' stock went up 30% on the news.

1 comment:

Loud said...


Just noticed your link to our post, "Why Publicly Traded Corporations Behave Like Sociopaths."

Thank you very much!