Is this progress?

On a recent road trip to Yellowstone, the price of gasoline to ranged from $3.27 in Washington State to $2.77 in Montana and Idaho. There is no explanation or for the price differential and we’ve heard all manner of outrage and protests about it from the media and our elected representatives!!!

Meanwhile at the ASCO (American Society of Clinical Oncology) meeting “major” progress in the treatment of kidney cancer was announced. See also here.

Nexavar (sorafenib) Sutent (sunitinib malate) and
temsirolimus all seem to have activity against kidney cancer. This is real progress but it should be noted that these drugs do not cure the cancer and the survival improvement appears to be limited to be only a few months. Yet Nexavar will be sold to the public at a cost of over $4000/,month and Sutent at $38,000/year. Temsirolimus has not yet been approved for sale in the U.S.

We do not have a free market in pharmaceuticals. The government provides patent protection for 20 years to manufacturers developing new products. During this protected period the company can charge whatever it wishes for the product. It has a monopoly.

One would think that the quid pro quo of such a system would be that the companies price the medications fairly not take advantage of their government protected market. Yet these new drugs that have yet to show major benefit are priced higher than the average and median incomes in our country. Who can afford them? Where is the outrage?

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