It’s an unfortunate and life-threatening fact: one in five Americans has skipped vital prescriptions simply because of the cost. These choices are being made even though we have reached a point in the conveyance of medical options where cancers can be cured and sight restored for those blinded by rare genetic disorders. How, in this time of such advancements, did we reach a point, where people cannot afford the very things that could save their lives?
As the COVID-19 global pandemic has pointed out, we need the leadership of scientists, researchers, public health officials and lawmakers alike to guide us through not only in times of a global health crisis, but also during far more mundane times. For the first time in decades, people from all walks of life face the same need for medicine. It is time to discuss the tough questions about drug pricing in an open, honest and, hopefully, transparent manner.
But first we must understand how we, as a society, got here. Medicines are arguably the most highly regulated—and cost-inflated—products in the United States. The discovery, development, manufacturing and distribution of medicines is carried out by an ever more complex and crowded set of industries, each playing a part in a larger “pharmaceutical enterprise” seeking to maximize profits. But this was not always the case.
The Price of Health is the reveals the story of how the pharmaceutical enterprise took shape and led to the present crisis. The reputation of the pharmaceutical industry is suffering from self-inflicted wounds and its continued viability, indeed survival, is increasingly questioned. Yet the drug makers do not shoulder all the blame or responsibility for the current price crisis. Deeply researched, The Price of Health gives us hope as to how we can still right the ship, even amidst the roiling storm of a global pandemic.
How have medicines have been made and distributed to consumers throughout the years? What sea of changes that have contributed to rising costs? Some individuals, actions, and systems will be familiar, others may surprise. Yet the combined implications of these actions for will be surprising and at times shocking to both industry professionals and average Americans alike.
Like so much else in human history, the history of the pharmaceutical enterprise is populated mostly by well-intended and even noble individuals and organizations. Each contributed to the formation or maintenance of structures meant to improve the quality and quantity of life through the development and distribution of medicines. And yet systems originally created to do good have often been subverted in ways contrary to the motivations of their creators. Only by understanding this disconnect can we better tackle the underlying problems of the industry head on, preventing foreseeable, and thus avoidable, medical calamities to come.
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About the Author
Lori Weiman is a senior strategic communications adviser and business executive with experience in the biotech/pharmaceutical, IT, finance, accounting, and legal industries. Ms. Weiman is the founder and principal of Weiman Strategic Advisers, LLC, which provides strategic communications counsel and support to publicly traded, private and nonprofit organizations. Ms. Weiman has been a member of senior management and enterprise-wide teams, helping to establish, build and brand cutting-edge businesses by leading a broad spectrum of corporate affairs and investor relations functions. Throughout her career Ms. Weiman has served on the boards of a number of trade associations, private-public partnerships and nonprofit entities.
Table of Contents
Foreword Mark Cuban ix
1 The Law of Unintended Consequences 1
2 A History of Medicine Men (and Women) 10
3 The More Things Change, the More They Stay the Same 27
4 I Fought the Law (and the Law Won) 38
5 The Man behind the Curtain: Wizard of Odds 60
6 Finding a New Purpose in Life 75
7 Self-Inflicted Wounds 85
8 As Seen on TV 109
9 I'm From the Government, and Am Here to Help … 126
10 Odd Couplings 138
11 Generic, But Not Uninteresting 154
12 The Costs of Complexity 167
13 Smart Bombs and Dumb Money 187
14 Reputation Decimation 206
15 How Are Drug Prices Determined? 219
16 And You Thought Pharma Was Opaque 225
17 American Exceptionalism 240
18 A Stomach-churning Story 250
19 Views of an Archaeologist 260
20 All Roads Lead to Washington 275
21 Future Shock Already Happened 298
Afterword Lori Weiman 321