Last week US based Turing pharmaceuticals hiked the price of Daraprim, a medicine used by Aids patients, by 5,000%.
The drug, which costs $1 per dose to make, went from $13.50 per dose to $750 after Turing pharmaceuticals acquired the rights in August.
Turing pharmaceuticals CEO Martin Shkreli has defended the decision by saying that the $1 manufacturing cost of the drug does not factor in marketing and distribution.
Drugs should not need marketing! Nor should they be patented. Producing, testing and supplying life saving, life changing, or even just helpful drugs should be a public utility.
Price hikes are not a new thing. And indeed the pharmaceutical industry is a roll-call of what should be scandalous behaviour; with patent races and court cases, the repression of “non-profitable” research, sky high marketing costs and lobbying (or buying off) of medical institutions and professions to favour a particular drug.
According to the OECD 70% of scientific research (not just medical) is privately funded, with 20% funded by universities and just 10% by governments. In 2011 60% of funding on cancer research conducted through the National Cancer Research Institute in the UK came from charitable sources, rather than being state funded — and that doesn’t count private research. We are far from having publicly funded, accountable, medical research that benefits all.
Pharmaceutical companies are making a huge profit. According to the World Health Organisation, the global pharmaceuticals industry is worth $300bn a year, expected to rise to $400 billion within three years. In the US from 1998 to 2014, the top five pharmaceutical companies spent nearly $2.9 billion on political lobbying — more than any other industry. The industry also doled out more than $15 million in campaign contributions from 2013-14.
Pharmaceutical companies should be nationalised, and run in the public interest and under the democratic control of their workers and scientific researchers.