The Spark

the Voice of
The Communist League of Revolutionary Workers–Internationalist

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.”
— Karl Marx

Pharmaceutical Companies Compete—To Raise Prices!

Jun 22, 2015

The prices for Lantus and Levemir, the two most frequently used medications for diabetes, have been raised 13 times over the last five years. With straight faces, corporate spokespersons from Sanofi and Novo Nordisk, makers of these two drugs, pretend competition is what keeps these prices going up and up. And usually they have raised their prices within days of each other.

Apparently, for diabetes patients at least, capitalism drives down the price only in other countries. While these two drug-makers charge about $450 a month here in the U.S., in France the same amount of either drug costs diabetic patients $70.68; in Norway, the same pack costs $77.26.

If generic copies of diabetes drugs were made in the U.S., prices would be lower–for a market of almost 30 million people facing diabetes. Professor Jeremy Greene, at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, pointed out, “If any drug should be available generically, it’s insulin.” After all, it has been used for about a century!

But generic drugs might cut into profits–slightly. And in the U.S., capitalism’s center, profit is king. So generic versions of these drugs aren’t available here.