It’s déjà vu all over again. A drug company has brought a drug that has been available as a generic elsewhere in the world for decades at a shockingly inflated price.
This time, the drug is a steroid called deflazacort, which has been approved for treating kids with Duchenne muscular dystrophy. It has fewer side effects than existing steroids, and many patients have been getting it from Europe or Canada at a price between $1,000 or $2,000 a year.
Yet, according to Forbes, a pharmaceutical company in Deerfield, Ill., has gotten approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to sell deflazacort at an incredibly high price. The company, Marathon Pharmaceuticals, is charging a list price of $89,000 – a 6,000% price increase.
But big pharma CEOs are facing a time of reckoning and are worried that Americans will say “enough is enough” and embrace Bernie Sander’s single-payer health care plan.
As reported by The Intercept, the chief executive of Allergan, one of the largest pharmaceutical firms in the world, is concerned that Americans will become fed up and, in an era of increasing political polarization, come to embrace the single-payer health care plan being unveiled Wednesday by Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt.
The CEO, Brent Saunders, shared his concerns last weekend at the Wells Fargo Healthcare Conference in Boston, a gathering for investors and major pharmaceutical and biotech firms.
“Americans have lost trust in drug companies,” Saunders said, noting the industry consistently ranks lower than oil and tobacco companies in public trust surveys.
“I think we’ve got to do things to bring that trust back,” the executive added. “Because ultimately, someone’s going to be in the White House. Somebody’s going to be in Congress. Someone’s going to be somewhere and going to have to say, ‘Enough’s enough. Let’s just change the whole system. Let’s go to one payer. Let’s do something.’”
While single payer has been discarded as a far-left idea in the last decades, the policy proposal has gained new traction in the wake of the 2016 presidential election. Many in the Democratic Party are drifting to the ideas of Sanders and other progressives who have long advocated for expanding coverage by providing Medicare to all Americans.
While serious questions linger about the political viability of single payer, especially for the immediate future under President Donald Trump and a Republican Congress, the center of gravity within the Democratic Party has shifted dramatically in favor the universal Medicare plan that health care executives fear.