Prescription medication is crucial to the lives of many Americans. When pharmaceutical companies increase drug prices, they risk the lives of many Americans who require certain medications to survive. Price gouging life-saving medication is an extreme act motivated by greed. Pharmaceutical companies need to be held accountable for exploiting consumers and the drugs they need to live.
There are too many examples of pharmaceutical manufacturers raising the cost for essential medication.
According to CBS News, the price of insulin – a drug that 6 million of the 29 million Americans living with diabetes needs – more than tripled to $700 per patient between 2002-2013. Fox Business reports that EpiPens, a life-saving treatment for severe allergy reactions, only costs $2 to produce, but were sold for $700 by Mylan in 2016. In 2017, NextSource increased its life-extending cancer drug Lomustine by 1,400 percent. Lomustine was originally $50 per pill. NextSource now charges $768 per pill.
Diseases are not optional. This fact means the prescriptions a person needs to sustain their health is not optional either. When affordability and accessibility to medication could mean the difference between life or death, the act of hiking such prices is a wrongful act.
Pharmaceutical companies are able to price gouge because there is a considerable lack of generic drugs available to compete in the marketplace. According to U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, there are “unprecedented levels of deflation in the generic sector.”
The law could be used to curb price gouging. The FDA aims to implement measures to speed up the availability of generic drugs. In his 2016 presidential campaign, now President Donald Trump raised the issue of high drug prices, but little action has been taken since he came into office.
Meanwhile, The Hill reports that Democrats are gearing to use price gouging as a platform during midterm elections this November.
Instead of using the issue to capitalize on votes, both Republicans and Democrats could use the subject to implement bipartisan legislation.
It does not seem likely that lawmakers will act to reduce pharmaceutical price gouging.
According to Fox Business, 97 senators and 299 House Representatives received contributions from the pharmaceutical sector during the 2016 election cycle. On April 13, the U.S. appeallate court struck down a Maryland law aimed to deter price gouging by regulating costs for generic drugs. The court stated that the law was unconstitutional because it would have impacted sales outside of Maryland.
If drug pricing cannot be regulated on a state level, then federal legislation should be put in place. Pharmaceutical companies have a responsibility to improve and save lives. They should not have the power to determine whether a consumer lives or dies by reducing drug affordability and accessibility.
While the FDA hopes the competition of an increased availability in generic drugs will ease price gouging, consumers cannot solely rely on marketplace solutions to limit corporate greed. It is irresponsible and unethical to let people die because a company wants to profit from selling a medication for much more than it costs to produce.
More regulations are required to ensure people’s health will not be severely compromised because they are unable to afford exorbitant drug prices.
Paige Wisniewski is a junior majoring in interdisciplinary social science.