Thanks for nothing, Big Pharma!
By far the biggest health news this week was about a relatively obscure medicine used to treat two conditions (malaria and toxoplasmosis) which are relatively rare in America. Only about 2,000 Americans have to take Daraprim every year, and they only have to take one round of it.
This led to a situation where no one wanted to manufacture the pill, because there was so little profit in it. Enter an infamously ill-behaved venture capitalist who snapped up rights to the drug and immediately jacked up the price, from $13.50 per pill to $750 per pill overnight.
The public was outraged when they found out about it (thanks largely to a tweet by Hillary Clinton). But the truth is, this kind of thing is happening all around us all the time. Pills aren't made of unicorn tears and fairy dust, they are made of normal real-world chemicals, and the only reason they cost so much is because our pharmaceuticals come from a free market.
Other countries don't have this problem, because the government buys the medications and then dispenses them to the public. That's how it works for us in America for people on Medicare and for people in the military. In both of those systems, the government buys the medicine and is able to negotiate a reasonable price for it.
When Turing Pharmaceuticals jacked up the price of a generic, 62 year-old drug, what they did wasn't illegal. (Although it was certainly unethical.) They were just behaving the way the market encouraged them to behave - in other words, the Invisible Hand raised the price.
Are we finally ready to make a substantial change to our health care system? It's hard to say - half the time, these Twitter-driven tempests in teapots are utterly forgotten a month later. Here's hoping people remember this incident when it comes time to vote this November.