In life every human has essentials that they need to in order to live these range from shelter to clothing, and when a person is sick or about to die, they deserve medical treatment. Medicine plays a great role in today's society to help people live day to day. Not only can they maintain life, but they also fix it as well. Pharmaceutical prices have skyrocketed to where people in financial crisis cannot afford to buy essential medicines. The disadvantage people in society are suffering due to greedy pharmaceutical companies prioritizing profit over a patient's health. America's poor cannot afford the astronomical pharmaceutical prices because patents allow for certain drugs to be distributed by monopolies, physicians are given incentives to prefer a certain drug over another, and the cost to research and develop drugs are too much for companies to have competition.
The number one cause of the high prices, is how patents are maintained. Gerard Raj in the European Journal of Clinical Pharmacology exclaims that, “…a patent lasts for 20 years from the date of its application.” (2). This allows for a certain company to monopolize their drug and set any price they see fit. Patents are supposed to protect people's ideas and inventions, but when they do not look to sell the drug fairly, consequently, they do not deserve to have their idea protected. In the span of 20 years, the company rules over their new drug and does not have to compete with a company producing a similar drug. Not only do the companies have the patent for the drug, but they also patent all the modifications that could be made on the drug to improve it (Raj 3). Many patents belong to the company and copying them would be fraud. This prevents other companies from using their ideas that they patented, and allows total control over the field their product dominates. Having this superiority gives the company influence over setting how much their drug really costs. Financially burdened U.S. citizens are affected by the pharmaceutical companies' monopolistic prices that makes medicine unaffordable. With a lack of competition between medical manufactures, the consumers will not receive the best price upon their pharmaceutical needs.
Having market exclusivity over a type of drug leads to a higher priced product. In an article written by Harvard students, it was estimated that, “consumers gained $23.9 billion in a single year post patent expiration.” (McKeller 7). The pharmaceutical companies that lost their patent due to expiration had to lower their prices to compete with corporations that produced their product for much cheaper. This evidence suggests that pharmaceutical companies set their drug price higher than what it should be, thus affecting the consumers and limiting low income citizens from having access to the medications. People who cannot afford certain drugs do not have the luxury of waiting 20 years for a product to lower their prices, most individuals need it immediately, no matter their financial situation. The reason the prices drop so much after expired patents is because companies can decrease the margin of profit to sell their pharmaceutical drug. This competition is a tool to keep medicine prices low and affordable.
A new tactic in pharmaceutical drugs is promoting drugs to physicians with questionable incentives. In an article written by P. Komesaroff, he states that, “promotion and marketing have a profound impact on medical decision-making. Contact with representatives, gift giving, sponsorship of meetings, and industry sponsorship of research and publications often lead to increased prescribing of drugs…” (558). These findings describe an unfair advantage between competing enterprises. Certain types of drugs are more effective than others in how they are made and ingested. A doctor is required to give a patient the best care and that includes the most efficient and dependable drug. If the physician is given rewards for prescribing certain pharmaceutical drugs, then the competition becomes biased. Regulations between these relationships need to be made, so the best treatment is prescribed to the patient. The article later discusses how relationships between doctors and drug manufacturers should be obsolete, so a patient's health has the least chance of being compromised (Komesaroff 559). A company with access to more money can acquire more marketing to its competition. This is perfectly reasonable, but if a pharmaceutical company can persuade a physician with favors, then that is when it becomes one-sided. Unjust advantages can affect low income citizens because they will not know of all the cheaper pharmaceuticals that work the same. Not knowing about crucial lifesaving drugs is inhumane and not fair to the people who need it.
Cost of Research and Development
Certain pharmaceuticals are held to higher prices due to research and development to create the drug. It was discovered that pharmaceutical firms lost $1 billion dollars in research and development spending when the Clinton administration put the Health Security Act (HSA). Although when it was defeated in congress, the whole market place for pharmaceutical firms rallied back to return their losses (Golec 263). Ultimately the regulation put on by the Clinton administration had the opposite effect in reducing prices. In fact, it made it more expensive to produce any more drugs. Changing the cost of research and development allowed only the richest of firms to stay afloat and losing all other competition. Having such strict protocols for producing pharmaceuticals increases the overall prices indirectly. Creating efficient rules and regulations on production would allow exclusive drugs to drop in price. The article goes on to explain that the, “…pharmaceutical price inflation dropped sharply in 1993 and remained relatively low afterward.” (Golec 240). The HSA was defeated in 1993 and once it was gone, medicinal companies kept their prices lower so they could avoid the government coming after their right to set drug prices. They realized how lucky they were to have exclusivity of controlling the marketplace for their own drugs showing that they overpriced their merchandise. This act eventually effected the marketplace to lower their prices and help out the less fortunate to have more access to necessary drugs.
The impoverished society in America is overlooked by pharmaceutical firms. Rules and regulations are a necessity to achieve more competition and to control single-ruling companies. The essential medicines are deprived from citizens with low wages. By market exclusivity of patents, unfair doctor enticements to prefer prescribing certain medications, and cost of research and development all circuitously cause the price of pharmaceuticals to rise and become unavailable to financially burdened individuals. A human life should always be worth more than the medicine to save it. No matter what situation a citizen is in, every person deserves to get help and have access to vital pharmaceuticals. Life is the greatest gift of all and should be fought for in society to keep it in any means necessary.
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