A new low (i.e. high price) $30,000/month (Folotyn)–Your money or your life, maybe

The maybe in the title is because no one knows whether this new $30,000/month drug (Folotyn) works to prolong life.

And Folotyn has not even been shown to prolong lives — only to shrink tumors. The drug was approved by the Food and Drug Administration in late September as a treatment for peripheral T-cell lymphoma, a rare and usually aggressive blood cancer that strikes an estimated 5,600 Americans each year.

and later in the article:

But Dr. Newcomer said insurers would be obligated to pay for Folotyn because there were no alternatives.

Medicynical note: Even if this new drug worked perfectly in 100% of cases can any health care system afford such pricing? Think of it as sophisticated blackmail rather than health care and you get the idea.

Of course this is simply the most egregious example of drug company gouging. Pricing drugs proportional not to costs or benefit but on how desperate the patient is. A more cynical approach is hard to imagine.

This drug is a poster child for patent reform. We’ve argued that patent length (government sanctioned monopolies) should be dependent to some extent on responsible pricing. If a drug is priced ridiculously the patent should be of shorter duration. The more reasonably priced the advance, the longer the patent–a market solution to price gouging.


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