There is an entrenched, widespread belief that drug companies are not interested in developing real cures for diseases because it is so much profitable to simply treat the symptoms. Protestors have taken to the streets with banners proclaiming: “The pharmaceutical industry does not create cures, they create customers.”
According to IMS Health, a healthcare technology services company, the global pharmaceutical market in 2011 was worth $955.5 million and expected to grow to more than $1 trillion by 2016. The U.S.’s share of that market is roughly a third of that: $340 billion per year. America is a nation of chronic pill-poppers — in 2014, more than 4 billion prescriptions were filled at pharmacies.
A few years ago, a World Health Organization report was very critical of the pharmaceutical industry; it stated [note that sales figures are a bit outdated]: “The 10 largest drugs companies control over one-third of this market, several with sales of more than $10 billion a year and profit margins of about 30%. Six are based in the United States and four in Europe. Companies currently spend one-third of all sales revenue on marketing their products — roughly twice what they spend on research and development… [emphasis added] As a result of this pressure to maintain sales, there is now an inherent conflict of interest between the legitimate business goals of manufacturers and the social, medical and economic needs of providers and the public to select and use drugs in the most rational way.”
Some of the most expensive drugs sold in pharmacies are the so-called orphan drugs. An orphan drug is one that treats diseases that affect fewer than 200,00o patients in the United States. The visually-oriented folks at Daily Infographic raided their local pharmacies to produce a list of the most expensive prescription drugs. The cost of some of these prescription drugs are real jaw droppers — they actually make the cost of a chronic cocaine habit look like a real bargain. On second thought, buying street drugs from a street corner dealer is much cheaper than buying these prescription drugs — and you don’t have to read pages of warnings and contraindications.
The list below includes the drug’s trade name, followed by the disease it treats, followed by monthly cost for treatment.
Harvoni (Hepatitis C): $85,000
Cinryze (Angioedema): $75,00
Sovaldi (Hepatitis C): $73,800
Olysio (Hepatitis C): $42,500
HP Acthar (MS): $39,200
Viekira Pak (Hepatitis C): $39,100
Firazyr: (Andioedema): $37,000
Soliris (rare blood disease): $34,125 (orphan drug)
Elaprase (Hunters syndrom): $31,250 (orphan drug)
Naglazyme (Maroteaux-Lamy Syndrome): $30,416 (orphan drug)
Factor VIII Recombinant (Hemophilia A): $18,069
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For further reading: http://www.who.int/trade/glossary/story073/en/