Medecins Sans Frontiers (‘MSF’) new must-watch short film, The Naked Truth is hilarious, strongly worded, and to the point. In the video, MSF challenges Big Pharma’s age old claim of their medicines being necessarily priced as high as they are. Using metaphors that are nothing but apt, MSF strips away at Big Pharma’s supposedly continued expenses on drug research, demanding a revelation of their actual costs.
MSF uses the medicines for Hepatitis C as an example, noting their $1000 per pill price tag to be 67 times more expensive than gold. Their prices might have been justified with early drug research being high, but when – and as the video points out – 80% of this research was funded with tax payers’ money; are these prices still acceptable? And as far as the subsequent research is concerned, pharmaceutical companies keep their data secret, casting doubt on the legitimacy of their unaffordable prices.
Ritvik recently wrote an excellent piece on a new study that found Sofosbuvir, the Hepatitis drug of choice globally unaffordable. What is surprising is their observation of the major disparity in the pricing of the drug across 30 countries, ranging from $539 in India to $76,077 in Poland for the 12-week course. He importantly mentions a study published in the Oxford Journal of Clinical Infectious Diseases that revealed the cost of production of Sofosbuvir to be shockingly as low as $68-$136 for the full course. The question then remains. Are the costs charged for these drugs justified? Or is it time to call Big Pharma’s bluff?
Image from here