Liberals are flipping out over an exchange between Rick Santorum and a mother of a sick child over the cost of prescription drugs.

GOP contender Rick Santorum had a heated exchange with a mother and her sick young son Wednesday, arguing that drug companies were entitled to charge whatever the market demanded for life-saving therapies.

Santorum, himself the father of a child with a rare genetic disorder, compared buying drugs to buying an iPad, and said demand would determine the cost of medical therapies.

“People have no problem paying $900 for an iPad,” Santorum said, “but paying $900 for a drug they have a problem with — it keeps you alive. Why? Because you’ve been conditioned to think health care is something you can get without having to pay for it.”

The mother said the boy was on the drug Abilify, used to treat schizophrenia, and that, on paper, its costs would exceed $1 million each year….

…. “He’s alive today because drug companies provide care,” Santorum said. “And if they didn’t think they could make money providing that drug, that drug wouldn’t be here. I sympathize with these compassionate cases. … I want your son to stay alive on much-needed drugs. Fact is, we need companies to have incentives to make drugs. If they don’t have incentives, they won’t make those drugs. We either believe in markets or we don’t.”

Some things this story doesn’t tell you.  How old was this “young son”?  I have to wonder because if he is taking Abilify is he autistic?  Because irritability for an autistic disorder is the only way this drug is indicated for a child younger than 13.  The news article also indicates that she said the drug was for schizophrenia.  It is extremely rare for a child and incredibly difficult to diagnose for even a teenager.  So that alone makes me question her story.

Also I question the amount that she gives… I’ve seen anywhere from $11-25 per dose (which is high) researching this online, but taking what she said, if you do the math, we’re talking almost $2740 a day.  Please.  Also she (nor the media) mention that often if someone doesn’t have insurance there is help available (like this plan set up by one of those evil drug companies – this one makes Abilify) hardly anyone pays full price.  Then there’s the fact that Abilify is not the only medication out there.  Typically there are choices.  Doctors are willing to work with patients.

Then there is the fact she’s nameless so we can’t verify her story.  Doesn’t a journalist find that to be an important detail?  Also, why in the world could he not fact check her claim about Abilify costing $1 million annually? I can’t help but believe based on the sketchy information she has already provided that she is a liberal plant.

Putting all of that aside for a second.  Here again we see the opposition driven by emotion rather than common sense. Santorum is right. We are conditioned in this country to spend money on all sorts of things rather than health care. Also he’s right that if companies can recoup R&D costs they wouldn’t innovate.  A company’s exclusivity has a shelf-life, anywhere from 3-7 years, before generic drugs can be made (just a side note, Abilify’s exclusivity should be up soon).  Also, costs are also being propped up by litigation costs along with a whole host of other things. If the marketplace is more competitive the cheaper the costs will be.  Americans can also help bring costs down by being smarter consumers.  The free market works.  The United States leads the world in R&D for new medication.  We can do this because we don’t have price controls.

But hey don’t let common sense and the truth get in the way of a liberal talking point.

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  1. Two cents from the left wing. I agree with what you are saying. The end. I disagree with Santorum on MANY issues, but he’s right, drug companies are not charity, and abilify is not generally a pediatric medication.

  2. ” A company’s exclusivity has a shelf-life, anywhere from 3-7 years, before generic drugs can be made…”

    “Excluvisity” is one form of market protection. Patent protections are good for 20 years and these can be extended for a few years under certain conditions. If generics could come to market after only 3-7 years, drug prices would need to be higher.

    1. Added notes:
      Abilify was approved by the FDA in 2003, several years after its patent grant date. The US patent was due to expire in 2014 but was granted a pediatric extension that blocks generics at least until 2015.

  3. Not sure what this is supposed to refute. I agree, Abilify probably doesn’t cost what the lady is saying it costs. But “letting the market decide” what drugs should cost necessarily means that some people are going to be priced out of the drugs they need. Obviously there are ways to ensure people don’t die that don’t involve price controls, but some sort of acknowledgement of the predicament a policy like that puts people in would be nice. The failure to do so confirms liberal suspicions that conservatives are okay with policies that result in people, even people who make a decent wage as productive members of society, becoming too poor to live.

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