08 February 2017

Some Things Are Public Goods

Adam Feuerstein has a plaintive missive today, bemoaning the decline in profits from hepatitis/C drugs. Gilead has ceased being a cash printing machine, since the hep/C drugs do, close enough, "cure" the disease.

I never bought the notion that there was some huge pool of hep/C out in the population, despite (or, perhaps, because of?) Gilead's TeeVee ad onslaught aimed at Baby Boomers. While the virus can hang around asymptomatically for a time, the fact is only IV drug users have been getting infected since 1992 when a test began in blood banks. The notion that middle class oldsters, innocently infected from an old transfusion, are still walking time bombs for the disease is ludicrous. Not to mention that generic drugs have been treating the disease for decades, with nearly the same level of efficacy, just not as comfortably. Why, one might ask, should the non-IV population pay $84,000 per infection for Medicaid drug shooters to feel better? And the drug isn't a vaccine only a cure for the instant infection, so re-infection in the prescribing population is highly likely.

Feuerstein goes on to compare the life-long use of HIV drugs to manage the disease as better.

Right. He is clearly unaware that he's made an iron-clad case for healthcare as public good. Just as Lahren complained that coal miners deserve sinecure, it appears that drug companies do, too. Where's Ayn Rand when you need her?

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