Klitzman: Are Pharma Prices Unethical?

On CNN, director of the M.S. in Bioethics program Robert Klitzman examined the complex struggle between pharmaceutical companies and the patients whom they serve.

A few months ago, Valeant Pharmaceuticals quadrupled the cost of its drug Cuprimine. That means that many patients who suffer from the genetic disorder Wilson disease can no longer afford their necessary treatment. The New York Times reported that one patient, who is covered by Medicare, “will have to pay about $1,800 a month out of pocket, compared with about $366 he paid in May.” Klitzman points out, “The report came after Turing Pharmaceuticals made international headlines after announcing it was hiking the cost of Daraprim, a drug for toxoplasmosis, from $13.50 to $750.00 a pill.”

Klitzman writes, “While dramatic price hikes are not necessarily breaking any laws, they do raise larger moral concerns.” He says, “Corporations claim they charge these extraordinary prices to pay for research and development into new drugs. But the truth is that many spend more money on marketing than on R&D. Meanwhile, many patients who need these drugs will not actually be able to get them because of the costs.”

Klitzman writes, “Yes, drug companies are entitled to profit, but as some economists have suggested, that should be more to the tune of 10 times the cost of R&D, not several times that, as sometimes happens now.”

Read the article in its entirety on CNN, and learn more about the Bioethics master’s program.