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.

Dying for the Sake of Taxes

Around ten days ago in New York City.....some cops came upon this one guy....Eric Garner....and made him aware of an impending arrest.  Eric declined the arrest, made the episode difficult.....causing the cops to use a headlock.  The physical actions involved was sufficient to cause Eric to hyperventilate. Being an asthmatic.....things didn't go well.  Eric passed away that day.

Naturally, being black plays into this story.  Unnecessary force was immediately part of the story from that point on.

I've noticed now that this story has become page one news in New York City.....staying on page one since day one.  Everyone is involved in the chatter....from the mayor on down to Eric's widow.

Daily updates come and go.....with few news organizations going back to the original event and asking questions.

To put it in the right perspective....Eric had dealings with cheap cigarette sales (No New York City taxation). Eric was part of an effort to sell cheap smokes on the street.  His associates brought in smokes from Indian reservation sales or cheap cigarette taxation states (West Virginia at 55 cents a pack and North Carolina at 45 cents a pack)...it’s a simple act to take $10,000...cross the border...buy bulk...drive back and sell smokes on the streets of New York City at $1 to $2 off the normal street cost (note, for this argument, NYC smokes tax is $4.35).

While arrested before...Eric has yet to ever be convicted. You can figure various reasons....lack of prosecution capability....weak judge...limited evidence...etc. No one from the various news departments from NY City has discussed this part of the story.  It would be curious why justice didn't ever work as conceived.

So, the cops came around Eric on this occasion....wanted him to cooperate for another arrest, and Eric declined. He just wasn't going to cooperate with the cops. No one wanted to use the Taser on the guy...so they went to the old method of the chock-hold....note: illegal by city standards via cops since 1993.

Eric was a 350-lb guy....an asthmatic....probably not in good shape....and died because of events that he triggered and the cops simply wandered into. The city will fire the cop involved....pay off the wife with something like $1 million, and some city hall guy will gift Eric Garner with a statue in the middle of town....probably with a pack of smokes in his pocket as a symbol of nature and it’s unpleasant epic endings.

 Yeah....a guy just surviving off the street....selling cheapo smokes and cheating the city out of taxes.  Dying. Then getting to be noticed as a "hero" of sorts.

The news media?  Stalled and in a way operating like a third-world operation existing out of Bolivia.