“UN-Shrug-Worthy?” Bloomberg’s Gadfly Blogger Takes Old Line Big Pharma To Task, Too — On Pricing

This is but one of the stories I missed mentioning, while otherwise occupied earlier this week. It is a meta-narrative line I’ve written about countless times before, over these past seven or so years (that linked one considers the “moral suasion” angle). But here was the latest, along these lines, from last month. It is a timeless, intractable and yet ever-current topic, no doubt. Sort of like I don’t know. . . birth, death and. . . taxes.

The latest voice in this particular meta-narrative arises from a self-styled “gadfly blogger” at Bloomberg, who has added to the din — on pricing — in a pretty rational fashion, to my way of thinking. Do go read it all, but here is a bit:

. . . .[P]rice increases on older drugs are an essential profit driver across the industry. Last year, according to Credit Suisse, 80 percent of net profit growth among 20 of the largest companies came from price increases. Merck has raised prices on 38 brand name drugs this year and Pfizer on 133. Last year, driven in large part by a new generation of Hepatitis C drugs, U.S. drug prices rose 13 percent, the biggest increase in a decade and far, far ahead of inflation. . . .

Most executives seem to assume that nothing in the way of legislation will come of all this fuss in the end. “I think you have to separate a little bit of the rhetoric and the newspaper reports from the fact that I think there’s a lot of rationality in public policy,” Merck’s Frazier said on the earnings call.

Translated? I talked to the folks in Washington, and they’re not really going to do much of anything. . . .

I suspect Mr. Frazier is right — even when Mrs. Clinton is elected as. . . No. 45. But the blogger above does have a point: a price spiral always — always! — breaks at some point; usually violently, often precipitously, but without fail in a capitalist system as ours is — that day is. . . coming. Sleep well, one and all!


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