A few days ago, the big story was that Merck had brought out a new drug shown to reduce death and duration for people suffering from Covid-19. Molnupiravir, another pharmaceutical mouthful, sounded like a nice breakthrough and very needed. Good news for a change. But it turned out to exceptionally good news for the executives and shareholders at Merck—from a profit standpoint.
As reported by The Intercept,
A five-day course of molnupiravir, the new medicine being hailed as a “huge advance” in the treatment of Covid-19, costs $17.74 to produce, according to a report issued last week by drug pricing experts at the Harvard School of Public Health and King’s College Hospital in London. Merck is charging the U.S. government $712 for the same amount of medicine, or 40 times the price.
Not only did our government fund the development of this drug using funding from the National Institutes of Health and the Department of Defense, but then turned around and agreed to pay a massive premium for it.
It is well known that we are the dumbest country in the world when it comes to dealing with drug pricing. It is actually illegal for Medicare to negotiate drug pricing with pharma companies. That’s how successful the pharma lobby has been. And it is one of the primary reasons that getting the $3.5 trillion dollar infrastructure bill passed—which would repeal that travesty—is critically important.
Pharma lobbyists must be busting out the Dom Pérignon over this deal. It is now October and this deal is projected to generate an additional $7 billion in profits for Merck before the end of the year.
Think it is time to put the brakes on the American drug cartels yet?