A new drug, Kalydeco, will be made available to Cystic Fibrosis sufferers in Ireland. The drug, which treats a mutation specific to 10% of CF patients, will lead to a significant increase in quality of life.
This will be welcome news for the many CF sufferers such as Orla Tinsley who have courageously campaigned for treatment of the hereditary disease for years, and ensured that the government who delayed in accessing Kalydeco could do so no longer.
The government which negotiated with the manufacturers of the drug, Vertex Pharmaceuticals, who initially insisted on charging €234,804 per patient per annum. Whatever price was eventually negotiated, no doubt the manufacturers have reaped a handsome profit.
The practices of the pharmaceutical industry are indicative of the rotten nature of capitalism. Pharmaceutical companies, whose patents give them a monopoly on their products, are free to charge the profit maximising price for their drugs. If the price is too high, sufferers who cannot afford the vital drugs will die, as they do in their millions every year. Meanwhile, drugs companies make global profits of over $100 billion.
Furthermore, the profit motive entails that a drugs company will only invest in research if the likelihood is that they will see a high enough rate of return. Human ingenuity is capable of solving a great many of the world’s ills but in a system where production is tied to profit millions must suffer and die in order to line the pockets of the capitalists.
These companies should be wrenched from the hands of the profiteers and placed in democratic public ownership so that currently available drugs can be put in the hands of those who need but cannot afford them and that money can be invested in creating new drugs which can do much to alleviate the suffering of many.