“We judge other groups by their worst examples – while judging ourselves by our best intentions.” George W. Bush
The “scandal” of the EpiPen pricing is a picture perfect play for those who have a chip on their shoulder about rich people, corporations, and the need for government to protect us from the greed of the private sector, which of course can only be accomplished by the government because nobody in government is motivated by greed.
Kevin Williamson goes off on a full-fledged unrestrained rant, because what is the point of having a restrained rant. From his article in National Review, The Politics of Anaphylaxis:
Pardon my bluntness here, but screw these people. Nobody, anywhere, at any time, has ever in a moment of mortal terror cried out: “For God’s sake, is there a politician in the house?” You know how many treatments for anaphylaxis have been produced by politicians over the course of human history? Zero. Congress’s sole contribution to the existence of a handy device that keeps your children from dying from bee stings is the fact that Mylan CEO Heather Bresch is the daughter of a Democratic senator, Joe Manchin of West Virginia.
If we were relying on the intelligence, work ethic, creativity, entrepreneurship, scientific prowess, and far-sightedness of the members of Congress to produce treatments for allergic reactions or any other medical problem, we’d still have a million people a year dying from smallpox and preventable infections. We’d also be starving to death.
A more restrained if different analysis from Homan Jenkins, Jr. at The Wall Street, Dear EpiPen Customers:
Newspaper and TV coverage of our pricing controversy has not been friendly to Mylan, but most reports at least mention the ways we strive to lower the out-of-pocket price for consumers with coupons and rebates to offset their copays and deductibles. We also provide free drugs to hardship cases. The Washington Post even alluded to these efforts in its headline: “Despite coupons, EpiPen’s virtual monopoly roils critics.”
Sadly, the media have proved unable to explain the finer points of pharmaceutical pricing. Not that we blame the media: health-care pricing is complicated and subject to Reporter Complexity Refusal Syndrome.
And yet the essential matter is not complicated. It can be explained in a sentence: Six hundred dollars is the price we want insurers to pay.
The fury is the same as those who do not understand the role the pricing system plays in allocating needed goods to flooded areas. Charging more for needed products in areas that need it more is functional because it reduces the need for those needed products in areas that need it less. The moral superiors who are more interested in punishing profiteers than helping the needy often end up denying them the goods they need.
Yet there are many that altruistically donate time and money to the needy and needy areas. To praise them is not to condemn a system that works in their absence. God bless them.
While the EpiPen pricings is tailor made news for those trolling for reasons to “stick” it to the greedy capitalists, it does raise a few other questions.
Why does it take so long and cost so much to get approval for a drug from the FDA? Does this restrict competition and protect greedy profiteers from the accountability and discipline of the market?
How much does the third party payment system distort the pricing system, adding layers of administrative costs while removing basic consumer accountability?
Has the CEO’s father, Senator Joe Manchin, a Democrat, ever interfered with the FDA’s approval process for Mylan’s competitors? Would they pursue this line of questioning further is he was a Republican?
But most important, why is this news? This is not to discount the merit and the outrage of the story, but there are millions of products priced in the market every day, probably in the medical field alone. Transactions flow like water with little ire from the consumers or the moral preening gatekeepers we keep returning to office. The fact that the EpiPen “scandal” is even newsworthy is testament that market pricing works so well so often that such an aberration is extremely rare. Poorly thought out regulations directed at such exceptions will likely not make it less common. It would likely just add to the restrictions and roadblocks to innovation that caused such cases in the first place.