Sunday, April 27, 2014

For Drugs That Save Lives, a Steep Cost

We approve drugs and devices without considering cost-effectiveness, or even having a clue about price. We don’t ask for estimates and then are surprised when the nation is stuck with a $2.7 trillion annual health care bill.

In the case of the naloxone device, the question is germane because the drug itself is very old, and long off patent. A simple syringe filled with a dose of naloxone should cost about $3, said Dan Bigg, director of the Chicago Recovery Alliance, which has long deployed the drug in communities to reverse overdoses. He says giving the shot is “no more complicated than basting a turkey. It’s a no-brainer: You pull up this liquid and inject it into the muscle.”
But experts expect that Evzio could well be priced close to $500.
For many years, drug manufacturers have justified the high price of new drugs by citing their investments in research and development. But it has become harder to claim that it takes, say, $1 billion to bring a new drug to market, since many medicines originate with government-funded research, 

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