With healthcare reform legislation pending, and the government indicating that they’ll be shaving money off the prices they’ll pay for all things Healthcare, it shouldn’t really have been much of a surprise to see drug manufacturers raising the prices. After all, if they raise them now, they won’t be amongst those to suffer or have to tighten their belts to help make healthcare affordable. The tactic makes one mindful of “Value Added” pricing on cars. They add a few thousand to the sticker price (based on some dubious excuse) and then give you a couple thousand dollars off — so you “save” and they still got more than sticker price for the car. Nothing new there.
But we’re not talking about a new car. We’re talking about the drugs that alleviate suffering and save lives. While everyone else is looking for ways to cut the fat and lower costs, they’re making certain that lower profits don’t happen in their back yards. How close is the analogy? Washington hopes new regulations will reduce the cost of drugs by about $8 billion. They’re adding $10 billion. So look! Net increase of $2 billion for the drug manufacturers. So much for the savings our legislators have spent all that time and effort wrangling into place.
This isn’t the first time they’ve done so either. According to Stephen W. Schondelmeyer, PhD, U of MN, “When we have major legislation anticipated, we see a run-up in price increases.” Dr. Joseph Newhouse, an economist from Harvard, echoes the sentiment, noticing the same tactic was used a few years back after Congress voted in drug benefits for Medicare patients. Anywhere they can find a fatted calf, it would seem, they’re eager to take advantage of the opportunity.
Is this unethical, or just good corporate business tactics in a capitalistic society? There’s no reason it can’t be both. But there’s plenty of reason for the government to add measures (like freezing the prices to a date before the increases,) to ensure that their legislative efforts are not wasted. In a crisis, everyone is expected to pitch in and help out. Drug manufacturers may be putting on a bit more charitable a face these past few years, but it’s clearly just a drop in their profit bucket.
We need health care reform that enacts real changes. Just going through the motions won’t cut it. These actions fly in the face of everything the rest of the nation is trying to accomplish. Did the heads of these companies not learn how to play well with others in kindergarten? Since they don’t seem to know how to behave, it is left upon We The People to set them straight. Let your voice be heard.