Des Moines Register – 5/11/20
LTE by Dr. Selden Spencer, Ames
As a physician at a multi-specialty clinic, I see the dire threat COVID-19 presents for so many families and neighbors. The situation is dire: doctors in Iowa are facing shortages in hospital beds, medicines, and insufficient testing to track the spread of the disease, disparities that will only be compounded if new vaccines and treatment aren’t made affordable and accessible to all.
After 30-plus years practicing medicine, I’ve seen what happens when drug pricing is left to pharmaceutical companies to decide: migraine medication that costs patients $20,000 a year, multiple sclerosis medications that run between $63,000 and $104,000 annually, regardless of a patient’s age.
Gilead, the corporation under litigation for alleged price-gouging of Truvada, an HIV/AIDS medicine, just received emergency FDA approval for remdesivir to treat COVID-19. If drugs for debilitating conditions such as migraines or diseases such as multiple sclerosis are hardly affordable, why would we expect Big Pharma to behave any differently with medicines for COVID-19?
We need our leaders in Washington to prevent any single drug corporation from getting monopoly control of a future vaccine, allowing them to charge patients sky-high prices. Drug companies looking to profiteer from the pandemic have all the tools they need to do it. Meanwhile, doctors, nurses and patients are left defenseless, unless elected officials take action to prioritize public health over profits.