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

Drug Companies Say “Your Money or Your Life”

Aug 3, 2015

Sky-rocketing drug prices are bankrupting many patients fighting deadly cancers. More than 100 oncologists from top cancer hospitals around the U.S. documented this in an article this month in the Mayo Clinic’s medical journal.

The lead author of this article, Dr. Ayalew Tefferi, a hematologist at Mayo Clinic, said that “The average gross household income in the U.S. is about $52,000 per year. For an insured patient with cancer who needs a drug that costs $120,000 per year, the out-of-pocket expenses could be as much as $25,000 to $30,000–more than half their average household income.

As a result, about one in five cancer patients don’t take their treatment as prescribed, the doctors wrote.

Most of these drugs are developed by universities and government research institutions, funded by tax dollars. A dose of synthetic drugs, like Gleevec, used to treat chronic myeloid lymphoma, a type of blood cancer, costs less than a dollar to manufacture. Manufacturing a dose of Epogen, which is used with cancer drugs, costs less than $10 to make. But, the drug companies charge hundreds of dollars per dose for such treatments.

Drug companies are acting no different than gangs on a dark corner, who demand “Your money or your life.”