Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Capitalism at its most sociopathic

Capitalism loves a captive market. And there's no market more captive than people who will die unless they get a product. Unfortunately, a sociopathic hedge-fund manager has figured this out buying the rights to an essential medicine and hiking the price by 5,000 percent:

A hedge fund trader is at the centre of mounting controversy after the pharmaceutical company he bought raised overnight the cost of a life-saving treatment for people with Aids and weakened immune systems from $13.50 per pill to $750.

The 5,000 per cent increase was enacted last month for Daraprim, known generically as pyrimethamine, by Turing Pharmaceuticals of New York, a start-up firm, shortly after it bought the rights to the drug. The firm is headed by Martin Shkreli.

Daraprim fights toxoplasmosis, the second most common food-borne disease, which can easily infect people whose immune systems have been weakened by AIDS, chemotherapy or pregnancy, according to the Centres for Disease Control. About 60 million people in the United States may carry the toxoplasma parasite.

Its also used as an anti-malaria drug, and as a result is on the World Health Organization's List of Essential Medicines. And while this is the most obscene price increase, its not the first: just a few years ago it was a dollar a tablet. But then a succession of pharmaceutical companies bought the rights, increasing the price each time to cover the cost. To these scum, people's health is just a commodity to make them money.

Fortunately there's a solution: the drug has been approved since 1953. Which means it should be long out of patent. And at that sort of price, there ought to be plenty of financial incentive to make a generic version available to put the rent-seeking scum out of business.