Cost of Medicine

Medicine tablets
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As I am writing this I am sick. Not sure with what yet, but I will go to a doctor to check it out soon. It is funny because It was just today that I read a news piece about Executive of a pharmaceutical company that had increased the price of a drug called Daraprim that was needed for the infection known as toxoplasmosis. This man had found himself in front of a board of politicians scrutinizing him for his supposed shady business practices.

He declined to answer questions. To make it worse, he was smiling some of the time as he was being lectured even almost giving into laughter at one point during the process.

Now I suppose if you are a normal working Joe like me this would disgust you. The pharmaceutical companies in America have been doing stuff like this for a long time. Life-saving or important drugs have exorbitant and high costs making it hard for some to pay for them. Though I do not work in the pharmaceutical industry, I am one of the many workers in the medical industry. Even though stuff like this angers me, it is kind of hard to be angry. Why?

The research of medication is expensive and legally risky. So in essence, the high prices are really used by the company to offset the original cost of making the drug or medicine. If that medicine causes too much or reprehensible damage to the individual through side effects, the company that made that medicine can get sued within an inch of its life. So many pharmaceutical companies take a very hard line to sell their drugs at the best price and appease their investors and debts.

Unfortunately, this price is good for the company not for the consumer. To make matters worse, a company can prevent any other company from making their product or distributing it using patents. Giving them a clear monopoly and easily little problem in what price they decide on especially if it is a life-saving drug and the customer has to buy, they have no other option otherwise, they might have to face the ultimate consequence. It is the perfect non-negotiable agreement.

But it goes both ways, since politicians are not completely absolved of this necessary sin. Politicians take large amounts in donations from pharmaceutical companies to protect and push their interests in that regard. Most drug pricing policies do not have a cap for how high a company can go. So you could say this event is like a demon betraying the lesser demon to the muzzle of the gun that is media.

NOTE: It is likely much of the donation money came from the sales of the drug in itself. Making it all the more unsavory so I personally take back what I said about not being angry. I should be on that count. So I cannot absolve them in the least then, right?

Anyways Jamaicans tend to have it hard when it comes to the cost of medicine, surgeries etc. But it is the way things work nowadays, I wish there was a more efficient cheaper way to these necessary evils, but what can you do?

His behavior induces little sympathy and comes off as disrespectful and the allegations are serious. I can only hope if he is as guilty as they say, he face the consequences for them. Reflectively politicians get away in these games of business and money, after all they are the government. I think it should be illegal to for any pharmaceutical company to give any sort of financial support to political parties, considering the nature of the business and the ramifications. But that is just me.

Thinking about medicine especially life-saving ones, remember the story of penicillin. The doctor named Alexander Fleming discovered the mold he would later call Penicillin. He realized it was a good anti-biotic, which was what he was searching for at the time as he was studying for solutions to influenza. After much research and test the Australian Howard Florey and Ernst Chain developed his discovery into a drug.

Now they could have easily patented it and made themselves very wealthy men because the drug Penicillin was revolutionary at a time when disease and infections were hard to curb and fight. The drug was cheap to make and powerful enough to fight off some trivial infections that were very problematic.

They actually did not and it was mass produced by the United States during the second world war. Penicillin was quickly distributed on a global level and stopped the spread of most common infections especially in Africa where the cost of medication and medical services was a major reason for the health problems in that continent.

They became world renown for their charity and hard work as scientists. As Erbst Chain said in explaining his motive for researching the fungi named penicillin:

“I became interested – immediately – in Fleming’s paper, not because I hoped to discover a miraculous drug for the treatment of bacterial infection which for some reason had been overlooked, but because I thought it had great scientific interest. In fact, if I had been working at that time in aim-directed scientific surroundings, say in the laboratory of a pharmaceutical firm, it is my belief that I would never have obtained the agreement of my bosses to proceed with my project to work with penicillin.”

I wish people were like this man more time, but the system of the times make it hard for charity and investigatory actions that this man originally did to be realized more often.


David Shaw is a certified nerd and scum of the earth. Jamaican by birth, he enjoys long walks and the simple things in life. He is also an entrepreneur, writer and graphic designer. You can follow his mundane madness on twitter @davidcs_aw

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Cost of Medicine

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