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Unutterable Drivel About Covid-19 Drug Prices

Deaths from Covid-19 per 100,000 of population

Sure and we’d like to have some really cheap drugs which will treat this really expensive disease out there, Covid-19. One part of which is that we can work out how much such drugs will cost to manufacture, if they do indeed treat the problem at hand. Which is what some folks do:

Methods: Minimum costs of production were estimated from the costs of active pharmaceutical ingredients using established methodology, which had good predictive accuracy for medicines for hepatitis C and HI V amongst others. Data were extracted from global export shipment records or analysis of the route of chemical synthesis. The estimated costs were compared with list prices from a range of countries where pricing data were available.

Results: Minimum estimated costs of production were US $0.93/day for remdesivir, $1.45/day for favipiravir, $0.08/day for hydroxychloroquine, $0.02/day for chloroquine, $0.10/day for azithromycin, $0.28/day for lopinavir/ritonavir, $0.39/day for sofosbuvir/daclatasvir and $1.09/day for pirfenidone. Costs of production ranged between $0.30 and $31 per treatment course (10–28 days). Current prices of these drugs were far higher than the costs of production, particularly in the US.

OK, that’s useful and interesting information. For we do indeed want to know what is the marginal cost of another treatment. Whatever the full cost of the drug is, we’re not going to charge that to the impoverished of The Congo. Even a rationally profit maximising capitalist plutocrat wouldn’t do that. The place, the people, are so poor that sales would be zero. So, sell at something marginally above manufacturing cost to at least gain summat.

But our rationally profit maximising capitalist plutocrat, the bastard, would be charging more to you and me, we inhabitants of the rich world. And not just to make profits – rather, to make gross profits which can then make a contribution to the costs of getting the drug approved.

For, to create a new drug – one that you’re allowed to sell – you do not have to just find it and manufacture it. You’ve also got to get it approved. The entire process, research and approval, costing perhaps $1 billion. The peeps out there who use the drug have to pay that $ billion. Doesn’t, particularly, matter whether it’s through taxation – well, it does, because taxation means everyone pays, not just those who benefit – or a higher than manufacturing cost for the drug. But someone’s got to because if they don’t then there will be no new drugs ever.

This is also true if we cut the capitalist plutocrat out of the system. Someone still has to pay the research and approval costs of the new drug, otherwise there will be no new drugs.

At which point we get The Guardian:

Soaring drug prices could bar access to future coronavirus treatments

Impressive, don’t you think? Entirely and completely misunderstanding the point. But then this is The Guardian and economics. If we don’t have high drug prices for the current set of newly found treatments there never will be any new treatments ever again. Thus that headline is exactly, precisely and completely wrong. But, you know, The Guardian and economics. Heck, The Guardian and numbers.

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Spike
Spike
11 months ago

Of course; to a socialist, every penny that the retail cost exceeds a scientific estimate of the cost of the raw materials, is THEFT! the same way that it is theft when all the profit doesn’t flow directly back to the laborers.

To the rest of us, someone UNIQUELY satisfying a human need is entitled to a premium, and the size of that premium prods other people to find other ways to satisfy it.

Addolff
Addolff
11 months ago

I’m pretty much economically (and much else) illiterate, but still appreciate that the bloke down the market has had to invest lots of time and money in the van, food standard certificates, the ingredients, the pitch fees, Diesel etc. etc., hence 4 doughnuts for £2 where the ingredients cost 20p and £1 for a Diet Coke that you can get in Tesco for 33p. Wish I had a degree like the smart people at the Grauniad.

bloke in spain
bloke in spain
11 months ago

More to the point, and surprised you missed this, there may not drug to treat Coronavirus. Why would the pharmaceutical companies go to the trouble of producing one if they can’t recover the cost of doing so? They’re not charities

Spike
Spike
11 months ago
Reply to  bloke in spain

There WAS not a drug to cure Hep-C, until one was invented ten years back. That didn’t stop Congress from holding hearings to find out how the $86,400 cost of the full regimen was “justified.”

Thomas Dillon
Thomas Dillon
11 months ago

Underlying the socialist demand for cheap drugs may be the notion that, if the capitalist enterprise in general cannot provide medicines without recovery of research costs, so be it – its collapse would be a very good thing. A spokeswoman for Médecins sans Frontières tried to explain to me the iniquity of patents a few of years ago. She eventually had to give up.

Swannypol
Swannypol
11 months ago

I can’t help wondering how much the Grundy pays it’s journalists. Presumably just the cost of the ink and paper consumed in writing the article plus living wage for a reasonable estimate of the time to copy out said article verbatim. There is after all no value in unique ideas, creativity, research and development.
Which might explain a lot.

Pat
Pat
11 months ago

I’m surprised the G isn’t touting the generic medicines on the list, the ones that are available at little over production cost. Thus stuffing evil pharma’s profits. Like Mr. T is.

jgh
jgh
11 months ago

Stopped reading two sentences in. Do they also say “milk were”, “sand were”, “water were”?
Mass. Nouns. Are. Singular. That’s the *whole* *point* of being *mass* nouns.

Illiterate morons will be morons.

Addolff
Addolff
11 months ago
Reply to  jgh

Agree JGH, but it seems that to all the smart people out there the word ‘data’ is different to all the other nouns.

And don’t get me started on ‘Black, Asian and Minority Effnic’

jgh
jgh
11 months ago
Reply to  Addolff

Arrgh!!!! Ethnic is an adjective not a noun, minority is a noun not an adjective, so it’s “ethnic minority”, and black people and asian people *ARE* ethnic minorities, so again it’s just plain simple “ethnic minority”.
I occasionally hear somebody on the TV or radio helplessly stumbling over this as their language brain centre sends “ethnic minority” to their mouth but something interferes with the process and it’s as though their mouth refuses to form the words.

Bathroom Moose
Bathroom Moose
11 months ago
Reply to  jgh

Actually it’s also the plural of “datum”. “Data”(simple plural) and “data”(uncountable noun) are written the same but pronounced differently. Data (simple plural) is commonly used in statistics and in the sciences, as demonstrated by this article.

https://www.oxfordlearnersdictionaries.com/definition/american_english/data
https://dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/english/data

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