The Real Culprit

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Back in the old days we had a barn. The hay mow was where hay was stored on the upper level. There was usually plenty of loose hay to play in and an ideal place for a bumble bee nest. The kids were up there playing and stumbled onto a nest of bumble bees. Since Gretch is allergic to bee stings, Karl threw her out the window (onto the loose straw below). In fifteen minutes she could have been dead if she was stung. Karl is a hero.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is no hero, however. I have to wonder what inspires these people to allow someone like my little girl to needlessly die. Is it the belief that nothing of value exists without state control? Are we now to the point that the sheets for our beds will be automatically locked up until we prove we’ve brushed our teeth for the night? The weird thing is that the people running these regulatory departments are just people, like us. Yet, we bow down to their commands as if they have other worldly powers, unavailable to us peasants.

Let’s say two people were walking along a riverbank. The person who couldn’t swim falls into the river. Fortunately, there is a low hanging branch within his reach. Unfortunately, the person on the bank pulls the branch up out of the grasp of the one in the water. What would you call that?

The FDA still has more than 3,000 pending approvals that were filed before October of 2014. Typical lag time for approval of a new drug, and even an established generic, is still four years. The U.S. Government does not honor drug vetting by other advanced nations. The Danish company, ALK-Abello, sells the Jext pen for $34 to $67 throughout Europe that does the same thing as Mylan’s Epipen. They are shut out of the U.S. Market.

Mylan’s monopoly would not exist without U.S. regulations. When you can die in fifteen minutes from a bee sting, what sense does it make to require a four year approval process on something that has worked for over 100 years.

Epinephrine, also known as adrenaline, was first isolated in 1901. It’s cost is less than a dollar per dose anywhere in the world. The other component in the Epipen is the injector. It costs about $20 to produce.

We had a cow in the pasture with foot rot. She needed an antibiotic injection but my roping skills are lousy. So we borrowed a dart gun from a neighbor. The cow was stressed less than if she were roped, and she got the two 10cc doses that saved her life. The cost of each dart was $5.

I don’t blame anyone for being outraged at twenty-one dollars worth of product being sold for $600. But our childlike reasoning to explain complicated issues will not solve anything. Think of the 3,000 drugs waiting approval and the needless suffering. Mylan is certainly unethical in taking advantage of the FDA’s protectionist policies, but they are not committing a crime.

In attacking Mylan and leaving the FDA’s enabling of monopolies out of the discussion, Charles Grassley appears self-serving. If he were to attack the real culprit in high drug prices he would go after the federal regulatory nightmare that enables opportunistic monopolies like Mylan. Promoting competition would make Grassley a hero, like Karl.

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