Primum Eruere patiente (First gouge the patient)

It’s fascinating to watch the business of medicine work diligently to assure continued high prices and profits for medical “advances”—even long after earning back the cost of development.  The well-being of patients and affordability are considered least when profit and monopoly are involved.  Consider these recent examples, first

The language buried in Section 632 of the law delays a set of Medicare price restraints on a class of drugs that includes Sensipar, a lucrative Amgen pill used by kidney dialysis patients.

The provision gives Amgen an additional two years to sell Sensipar without government controls. The news was so welcome that the company’s chief executive quickly relayed it to investment analysts. But it is projected to cost Medicare up to $500 million over that period.

Read the rest of the article for details on Amgen’s recent illegal activities and the extent of it’s political bribery lobbying.

The second example, paying to delay a generic’s release

It would seem a business executive’s dream: legally pay a competitor to keep its product off the market for years.

Congress has failed to stop it, and for more than a decade generic drug makers and big-name pharmaceutical companies have been winning court rulings that allowed it.

Or lastly the extension of the patent because of a technicality as in the  Viagra

If you live in the United States and you have been waiting for generic Viagra to hit the market it looks like you will be waiting quite a while yet. Pfizer, the makers of Viagra, just had a crucial patent validated in a federal court of law.
It all started when the Israeli medical giant Teva received a tentative approval by the FDA for a pill using sildenafil, the active ingredient in Viagra. Teva were intending to start selling the pill in March 2012 when Pfizer’s sildenafil patent runs out.

Pfizer responded by suing Teva for patent infringement, based on a second patent. This patent runs until 2019 and is a so called method-of-treatment patent, meaning that even though sildenafil comes up for grabs in 2012 it would be until 2019 before anyone but Pfizer could market it as an impotence drug.

Medicynical Note:  As long as our system is dedicated to providing more protection to patent holders than patients we’ll continue to be gouged.  It should be noted that other countries don’t put up with such nonsense and they pay less for the patented drug as well as not allowing frivolous extensions. 

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