This being the big campaign season and all, CareerMom and I are constantly on guard that we don’t fly off the handle against those who speak ill of our country’s medical woes. To be sure, medical care is expensive; I don’t think anyone is discounting that, but I don’t think the average person understands what drives this medical economy so hated by “the lower and middle classes.”
But perhaps I should explain: CareerMom works for a pharmaceutical company. There, I said it!
My mom was here this past weekend for our son’s birthday. Her husband and her brother have a lot of medical issues, and as a result, they take a lot of drugs. For reference, I used to take approximately 30 pain pills for my back in a month’s time; her husband takes 120. I honestly don’t know how the guy functions, but it does explain why all he does when he comes and visits is sleep.
My mom’s older brother has a heart condition compounded by other, as of yet undiagnosed problems, and the best the doctors can do is keep trying different medications. So, they both have a lot of medical costs and to be fair, neither my mom, nor her husband work for companies with great medical coverage, and her brother, though still in his 50s, is technically disabled and on Medicaid. This weekend, mom and her husband both lauded the praises of Barack Obama, but like so many Democratic voters, didn’t really back their praise up with any reasons other than, “We need a change.”
They also made several comments against doctors and drug companies, and I gently tried to remind them who CareerMom and I can thank for our blessings (other than God of course) and how we can provide for our children like we do; my career notwithstanding.
But what I REALLY wanted to tell her, were a few facts. Perhaps I’ll share them with you:
1. To develop and bring a new drug to market, it costs a drug company, on average, more than $800 million dollars. That’s regardless of whether the drug is something exoteric like a pain pill, or something more niche such as an anti-depressant. And after spending all this money, only about 5% of drugs that go through research and development, ever make it to the market.
2. CareerMom’s company has been working on a drug for almost ten years, and it is probably not going to ever see the light of day because the FDA wants even more clinical testing that will cost approximately $300 million, which is more than the projected market will ever pay back.
3. Depending on the type of disease(s) the drug treats, the patent life on a new drug is usually only about 5-7 years. Which means that in those 5-7 years, the drug company really needs to recoup most of its money spent on developing the drug before cheaper generic drugs come out and wipe out their profits.
So when people complain about the cost of drugs, I have only one question for them, “What would happen if drug companies gave away their drugs at the price that would make most people happy?”
The answer is, “They would lose money.”
If they lose money, what happens?
They can’t invest in new drugs.
If they can’t invest in new drugs, what happens?
Drug companies go out of business and even more people suffer and die.
It’s very simple really if you follow the logic rather than simply reacting from the gut. Just something to think about as you listen to your favorite candidates.