Tuesday, 29 July 2014

The $84,000 Treatment Plan

The Wall Street Journal ran a fine and interesting article yesterday in the opinion area (28 Jul 2014) on "Beggar-Thy-Neighbor Medicine".

Basically, it's the story of a liver disease (Hepatitis C), and the apparent cure that science has run across and is prepared to hand out the 3.2 million American infected with it.

If you didn't know....it's almost a hundred-percent chance of you dying from Hep-C.  Well....actually around 80,000 people a year will die from this....percent by their numbers.  If you got Hep-C.....all you can do is draw out the time and wait for what will eventually occur.

So this new drug is Sovaldi....and it pretty much cures Hep-C (better than 95-percent but not quite 100-percent).  Folks are real happy about Sovaldi.

But, it has a price-tag.  You need to take it for three months....a pill per day.  The pill therapy?  $84,000 for the whole treatment.

You can do the math.

The company who developed the drug kinda admits that the six months of sales so far, since it went on the market, are up around $5.8 billion....at least thats what the Wall Street Journal says.

Will the pricing go down?  I'd take a guess that they need to reach a point where research costs are covered, and then they start some effort to cut by ten-percent every quarter.  The day when it reaches $100 a day?  It might be four years away.

How will the Affordable Healthcare Act handle this?  That's a debatable question.  Hep-C is covered by the standard policy and this treatment is likely in the mix of cost estimates.  Course, if you suddenly had a million Americans showing up and asking for the three-month treatment....expecting some mythical money pit to open up and cover the $84,000.....well....that might start to worry some folks.  I doubt if the system could really handle more than a hundred thousand people a year.

Forcing the company to get real on costs?  Legislate this into regulation?  Where is the limit?  Why not force gas down to $1 a gallon?  Why not force Pepsi in a 10-ounce can down to 50-cents?  Why not make a McDonalds menu-dinner at $2?  Once you open a can of worms.....it gets to the point of flipping people into the next mood of thinking.  There is no limit to this.

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