"access to life-saving medicines is not a luxury" - U2 Feedback

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Old 03-16-2011, 12:09 PM   #1
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"access to life-saving medicines is not a luxury"

~Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network

I was wondering what thoughts people here might have on this issue.
Canadians and otherwise, as I think this is debated in many nations.

Killing Bill C-393 would be a facepalm of the highest possible order. - Boing Boing

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The issue is control without regard for doing the right thing: This is essentially about patents. It's not that patents are bad, but rather that patents can be bad. As you probably already know, patents are a service provided by government to protect an inventor, such that the inventor has an element of control over how their innovation/product gets used. This is generally a good thing, because ultimately it provides order to a process that would get very chaotic very quickly should the patent not exist. However, sometimes the inventor isn't the best person to make decisions about control. Sometimes, the inventor doesn't have the best information to take stock of a situation, or sometimes there might be a moral argument where monetary performance should not take precedent. In other words, sometimes, there are special circumstances where you could say it is reasonable that this control is tweaked.

To illustrate this, here are some hypothetical (and not so hypothetical examples):

1. You are a company that recently received your patent, so that now your drug is being sold for $1500 instead of the previous $10 pricetag.

2. Your country has experienced a series of anthrax scares. The company that holds the patent for the most effective drug against infection from the offending bacterium, sees an opportunity, and decides to jack up the price.

3. Someone has declared war on your country. To defend yourself, you would like to utilize a particular product. Unfortunately, it is under a cost prohibitive patent and therefore out of reach.

4. There is an impending nuclear power plant meltdown, and there is technology that would be incredibly useful to mitigate radiation contamination and poisoning. However, your resources are already stretched because of the utterly horrific effects of a 9.0 Richter Scale earthquake, and this technology is too expensive at the scale that is required in such an emergency.

5. There are markets where your life saving drug is not being sold because no-one can afford them anyway. However, the drug (which could be a matter of life and death for millions) could be made at a cost (i.e. a generic) that makes it accessible in these markets, but if and only if, the patent over them is adjusted.

Here is my point. In all of the above cases, you would like to live in a civil society where the government can step in and forcibly change the patent, because in every case, there is an element of morality involved. And guess what - governments can do this and they do! It's called a "compulsory license," and they exist for this very purpose.

In fact, even the WTO is on board with this idea. They recognize that in some circumstances, such as those pertaining to global health, there needs to be an understanding that using such compulsory licenses is both necessary and an obligation. In fact, if you have a hankering for the legalese that outlines this for patents over essential medicines, you need only look up info on the Doha Declaration.
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Old 03-16-2011, 04:43 PM   #2
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"access to life-saving medicines is not a luxury"
It is a luxury if you live in the U.S., and you of course don't deserve health coverage if you don't have a job that offers it, because you are obviously a lazy black person / mexican / illegal immigrant.
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Old 03-16-2011, 07:08 PM   #3
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Don't forget those lazy sick people...
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Old 03-16-2011, 07:09 PM   #4
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1. You are a company that recently received your patent, so that now your drug is being sold for $1500 instead of the previous $10 pricetag.
I heard a story the other day about some shot that prevents premature births had that happen to it, went from $15 to $1500. Is that true?
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Old 03-16-2011, 07:11 PM   #5
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Apparently.

Preemie birth preventive spikes from $10 to $1,500 - Yahoo! News
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Old 03-16-2011, 07:12 PM   #6
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How can you have a monopoly on a medication? How is that even ok?
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Old 03-16-2011, 07:22 PM   #7
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yep it also seems to depend on your post(zip) code, sadly...
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Old 03-17-2011, 07:52 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bono_212 View Post
I heard a story the other day about some shot that prevents premature births had that happen to it, went from $15 to $1500. Is that true?


Both my parents died in 1998 of cancer.

My mom had ovarian cancer and died in July that year.

My father had a brain tumor. He died in November.

It was a tough year.


It has always troubled me that the closer they came to dying,
the medicine price went higher.

The medicine we purchased for mother, a week before she passed on, cost over two-hundred dollars for one dose.
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Old 03-17-2011, 08:24 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by corianderstem View Post
The usual argument of pharma needing to charge a ton to cover research and development doesn`t even apply here. Pretty sad.

This is the unregulated, profit-driven free market applied to human health and well-being, yall. Enjoy.
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Old 03-17-2011, 08:33 PM   #10
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Capitalism. Yee-ha!
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Old 03-17-2011, 09:29 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by the iron horse View Post
Both my parents died in 1998 of cancer.

My mom had ovarian cancer and died in July that year.

My father had a brain tumor. He died in November.

It was a tough year.


It has always troubled me that the closer they came to dying,
the medicine price went higher.

The medicine we purchased for mother, a week before she passed on, cost over two-hundred dollars for one dose.
Wow, that must have been tough, Iron Horse.

I'm sorry for your loss.

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Old 03-18-2011, 12:01 AM   #12
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I can totally sympathize with iron horse on this. Medicine prices are insane. I remember my parents talking about the prices of some pills my dad had to take, some of the medicines he had. How they expect people to pay crazy amounts for medicine AND still have money leftover to pay for other necessities is beyond me. It's so incredibly stupid, I don't understand how or why people think this setup is okay.

I'm also sorry for your losses, iron horse . That's horrible.

Angela
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Old 03-18-2011, 01:06 AM   #13
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it's ridiculous. my parents are having to go through this with my (maternal) grandma. my parents have been trying to pull themselves back up since another health crisis ~1 year ago, now they're being expected to pay for the medications required to keep her alive with money that doesn't exist.

i know a couple people who had to declare bankruptcy due to the medical costs for life-saving surgeries, medication, etc. the fact that the government can essentially sit back and see this happen and let pharmaceutical companies set prices of vital medications is insane. no medication should cost $200+ (in iron horse's mother's case) for one dose. especially not one that can be the difference between life and death. it sickens me.

i also echo previous sentiments, i'm sorry for what you had to go through, iron horse. i'm sorry for your losses.
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Old 03-18-2011, 01:37 AM   #14
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Originally Posted by KhanadaRhodes View Post
i know a couple people who had to declare bankruptcy due to the medical costs for life-saving surgeries, medication, etc.
We've had to do similar things.

Add in the fact, too, that sometimes these pills and surgeries don't wind up doing anything other than making the problem even worse due to misdiagnoses, or due to horrible side effects that force you to take a pill to combat those, and then another pill to combat the side effects of the first one, and so on and so on, and you REALLY start to realize just how much money is being wasted.

Angela
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Old 03-18-2011, 01:52 AM   #15
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Originally Posted by Moonlit_Angel View Post
We've had to do similar things.

Add in the fact, too, that sometimes these pills and surgeries don't wind up doing anything other than making the problem even worse due to misdiagnoses, or due to horrible side effects that force you to take a pill to combat those, and then another pill to combat the side effects of the first one, and so on and so on, and you REALLY start to realize just how much money is being wasted.

Angela
exactly. my dad had knee surgery about two months ago and his knee hurts even more than it did before. plus it's his second surgery on that knee (the first was in the late 80s) too! now he's got to get shots in his knee every so often but he's still in a lot of pain by the end of the day.

plus i used to work with someone who'd had back surgery and same thing, he was still in pain afterwards. he wasn't an old guy either, i'd say he was in his late 30s maybe? i mean geez.

also like you mentioned about giving you pills for everything. it's all so frustrating. i'm not much of a pill person, i'd be happy if i didn't have to take any at all. i've got to take four every night which i hate doing; two are just to help prevent migraines but of course i still get them, though at least not as much. of course there can't be a cure for everything, but come on.
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