By Jordan Weissmann
Originally published September 22, 2015
Here is an excerpt:
Assuming his conscience doesn't send Daraprim's price all the way back to $13.50 a tablet, Shkreli will be able to get away with his price gouging for a simple reason: Even though the drug's patents are long-expired, nobody else makes it. Thus, he has an effective monopoly over a life-saving treatment that lacks an alternative. One could argue that this speaks to the fundamental flaws of American oversight of the pharmaceutical industry. While the rest of the developed world uses price controls to keep medication affordable, the U.S. allows drug companies to charge whatever they please, with the hope that once their patents expire, competition from generics will drive down costs. To some slight extent, that's worked—about 8 out of every 10 prescriptions filled in this country are for generic drugs. But as production has become concentrated in the hands of fewer and fewer manufacturers, the prices of some generics have rapidly risen in recent years. And the costs of some specialty medications, like Daraprim, have skyrocketed.