Should 'Big Pharma' Make Big Profits? YES. Here's Why...
In free market capitalism, you're free to capitalize in all markets. That's the simplistic way of looking at economics and profits. You're welcome. If you want to be rich, if you want to make a difference and have a better life for yourself, there's no better way to go about it than in a free market capitalistic system. Of course, if you want to make money first and foremost, you will be demonized by the left in the process, even if your secondary goal is to find cures to rare diseases. To liberals, your first goal must be to "Do good" but only the right flavor of do-goodery.
Erica Barnes over at HuffPo has a femur to pick with a CEO of pharmaceutical company. The trigger for her tantrum was the recent price-hiking of a medication from $13.50 to $750 a pill. If you're wondering if Ms. Barnes asked if the Affordable Care Act (ObamaCare) or supply and demand, or any other reasonable factor played a role in the price hike, you're snorting all organic vegan fertilizer. Ms. Barnes went right to "GREED!" as the reason Martin Shkreli, the CEO, hiked the price.
In her article titled "No Pharmaceutical Tycoon Should Get Rich off the Disease that Killed My Daughter," Ms. Barnes immediately dismisses anyone who wants to apply logic to a situation she's so determined to make emotional (look at the title of her article, for drug's sake).
It's easy to vilify this man. His choice to make a 5000 percent return on an old product was obviously pure, unadulterated greed. Only the most naïve individual or an individual who is totally invested in the ideology of free markets at the expense of humanity would be satisfied with his flimsy excuses.
In other words, you, who might want to look at rational things like numbers, supply and demand, business costs, free-markets, or if insurance had anything to do with anything. If you think maybe, just maybe, Martin Shkreli isn't Satan, you're naïve. How dare you excuse this man's desire for wealth. How dare you try to be rational about this. Screw you, you evil capitalist!
The article continues down its dreary path of emotion, asking Americans to examine our culture and why we do things. Then there's this gem, which is so backwards you might think you're living in a fun house of unflattering mirrors.
I know research is expensive. I also know that biotechs and pharmaceuticals take huge risks in investing millions of dollars into products that may, in the end, be ineffective and therefore a loss to the company. All of this must, of course, be taken into account when pricing drugs. But I also know that the pharmaceutical industry is enormously lucrative and drug pricing is anything but a transparent process to the public. While the issue of drug development, research, and pricing drugs to reflect the costs is admittedly complex, there is one simple fact that discourages me. It is possible to get very rich off diseases like the one that killed my daughter.
See what happened there? She admits she knows diddly-squat. She admits that drug development is complex, costly and a huge risk to companies, but dammit, that doesn't change the fact that someone might make a profit off a disease!
I am advocating for an underlying societal value that says that suffering, illness, and dying should not be a space in which companies and individuals can amass enormous wealth.
For those who read this site regularly, you'll know that not only do we need to integrate basic electronics into the school system, but maybe a couple or five thousand courses on economics would be helpful as well. It's tragic that Ms. Barnes lost her daughter to a rare disease, it is. But it's also tragic that she thinks in order to search and fund a disease, you must be only an angel who wants to give and give with no financial benefit to yourself or to the company and employees searching for the cure.
I wonder, if there had been a cure to Ms. Barnes' daughter's disease, would she have cared if the CEO of the company who manufactured it was a volunteer at the local animal shelter, or if he dined on dead cats? Would she have cared if he lived in an New York penthouse or in destitution, like Obama's half brother? Probably not.
Here's the macro-issue: people like Ms. Barnes don't want people in medicine to get rich at all. Any medical product or service that you, a consumer, buys is something that you, the consumer, needs. Whether it's your inhaler or an ibuprofen. Conjoined twins need surgery to separate them. Cancer patients need chemotherapy or radiation therapy. Don't you dare try to make a profit in searching for the cure to any disease!
The question then must be, is it okay to make a profit from anything? Or does someone like Ms. Barnes feel like she can regulate who gets rich in what industry and who must work at cost? This is kind of a slipper slope issue here, and no one, not even a HuffPo columnist (especially not a HuffPo columnist) gets to determine who can be rich and who cannot be rich.