In a broadcast yesterday on National Public Radio, Richard Knox reports on how Eli Lilly deceived doctors and the public about a drug to treat sepsis that wasn’t meeting their sales goals. Xigris is the only drug approved to treat sepsis which kill 200,000 American annually but it’s cost is ridiculously high at $8,000 per treatment. Because of this, physicians had been rationing the drug which hurt Lilly’s profits. Can’t have that can we?
Eli Lilly then funded a campaign to change the way treatments for sepsis were done. The idea is to set up treatment guidelines which are supposed to be impartial in nature. Unfortunately, this doesn’t seem to be the case here. Dr. Naomi O’Grady who chaired the panel of the Infectious Diseases Society that reviewed the guidelines. was quoted as saying “Let me choose my words carefully, this guideline really, I believe, was designed to promote a product.”
Ever since President Reagan de-regulated the pharmaceutical industry and severely cut back funding for research, the new drug development in this country has not been about saving lives or treating disease but trying to increase profits, create blockbuster drugs (blockbuster in the sense of obscene profits) and marketing. This is why our health care system costs so much. It isn’t the lawsuits like so many pro-pharma types would like you to believe but the cost of medications that has been the main fuel to the rising costs. We need a change and we need it now before the entire health care system collapses.