Monday, October 26, 2015

Prescriptions, Monopolies, and Price-Fixing

From $13.50 to $750, but not what it seems

So a company called Turing Pharmaceuticals took a generic drug that was selling for $13.60 and started selling it for $750. But how? It's a generic drug, that means anyone can sell it, so how come no one else is selling it at $13.60?

Because Turing Pharmaceuticals hit on a method of getting a monopoly on generic, life-saving drugs.

How it works it simple: Drugs that were developed before the FDA's regulatory compliance scheme was created were grandfathered in without going through that gauntlet, because those drugs were already proven to actually be effective.

But the FDA and it's supporters in Congress still wanted to put those drugs through the FDA gauntlet, so they created a special monopoly privilege for companies that filled out that paperwork and completed the make-work for the FDA's records. Companies that filled out the FDA forms gain the right to shut down production of the drug by any other company.

And, surprise, companies have started evaluating drugs to review based on the low cost of production instead of the public good. So these companies will go to the FDA, fill out the paperwork, gain monopoly privileges, and jack up the price. Turing's 5500% price hike might be the most excessive, but other companies do it less obnoxiously.

This is not a patent - it's not a reward for creating a new, lifesaving medicine or quality of life drug. It's a reward for filling out paperwork and completing forms. They are not providing any value to the public, only to the FDA.

Turing's price gouging is the result of bureaucracies prioritizing their own paperwork over the good of the public.

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