You stroll into your local pharmacy to pick up your latest prescription, recognizing the necessity of this medication and the ease with which you can acquire it. You’re used to the standard fee for each time you have to pick up your prescription. But as you go to pay, something seems drastically different and can’t be right. How did the price suddenly jump $600?
According to The New York Times, Daraprim, the 62-year-old drug typically used in the treatment of AIDS, was recently purchased by Turing Pharmaceuticals, a start-up company run by a former hedge fund manager. Turing proceeded to raise the cost of the drug from $13.50 a tablet to $750. Daraprim is mainly used to treat a parasitic infection that can cause serious or life-threatening issues for babies who have mothers who were infected during pregnancy. The drug can also treat people with compromised immune systems, which includes those AIDS patients, and individuals with certain cancers. It can also be used to treat malaria.
In response to the backlash, Martin Shkreli, the founder and chief executive of Turing Pharmaceuticals, said patients use the drug for far less than a year. He also said the company decided to increase the price to stay in business and develop other treatments.
Many patients will not be able to afford the new price, and as a result, it is essentially speeding up the negative effects that the drug is taken to prevent.
For a drug to be priced so low for such a long time, we don’t see why it makes sense to raise the price so quickly and suddenly. Medicine, among other necessities like food and water, seems like something that should be easily accessible. Given that Daraprim cures serious illnesses and infections, raising the prices isn’t fair to the patients who so desperately need it. Though Turing Pharmaceuticals will profit, there are patients who will suffer. Yet, unfortunate as it may seem, medicine is a business and business is the center of our society.
A company’s main concern is staying in business and generating a profit. Turing Pharmaceuticals, like companies in practically every industry, is subject to this mindset. Although generating a profit is essential for a business and its employees to thrive, when does that drive to make money begin to negatively affect the lives of consumers? When faced with the situation of doing good business and being a good person, where is the line drawn?
As negative as the response is toward Turing Pharmaceuticals to raise the price so drastically, they’re fueled by the common need to make profit. Sometimes this drive for profit and prosperous business is put before the needs of others — including the people that an industry or company seeks to serve. Of course, this is not always the case with every business seeking to survive and grow, but the case of Turing Pharmaceuticals and Daraprim is merely an extreme example of a common occurrence.
There are times where it may be necessary to put the business aside and approach decisions with humanity in mind. Though medicine is a business, there are people willing to provide food and health essentials to those who cannot afford it. There are organizations that run soup kitchens and food pantries and even healthcare specialists who donate their time and resources to treat patients who could not typically afford it. There are companies that put people over profit, and in a realm of health and wellness, one that is so integral to living, perhaps that’s the approach that needs to be taken.
When faced with a situation where profiting for ourselves means disregarding the needs of a greater whole, it can be a blurry line. In this case, though, the consideration was given to the business and not the people. Although we live in a business-run world, we have to remember people are affected by the decisions we make.