The issue: Poor people can’t afford high-cost drugs privately
Player #1: The Australian PBS, which has just released this year’s list of top 10 pharmaceuticals by expense (see table below)
Player #2: The Social Medwork, a new company which imports high-end drugs, for a fee
My verdict: Sorry, that’s life. The public can’t afford to pay for everything.
THE DILEMMA posed by high-cost pharmaceuticals isn’t one likely to go away any time soon.
With hepatitis C treatments clocking up their first $1 billion in just four months, PBS budgeters must be sweating.
However, they would also be relieved that they didn’t cave in to the campaign – backed by the manufacturer but involving patient advocacy groups and some doctors – to approve the drugs earlier at an even higher cost, as happened in the US.
Coming second on the PBS expense list, at half a billion, are two macular degeneration drugs with their own cost controversies.
The manufacturer of ranibizumab (Lucentis) has been heavily criticised for purchasing the patent on its only competitor but not doing the head-to-head study that might have allowed approval for the cheaper drug. Back then, Lucentis cost 50 times the price of its competitor, and it remains the gift that keeps on giving, near the very top of this year’s PBS spending. Merry Christmas, shareholders.
At the top end of the market, where high-rollers spend public funds on the promise of clinical benefit, it is no surprise that a new player has entered the room. A Netherlands-based company has just created a new niche for those customers who can afford it. Continue reading