A bunch of you have been sending in the somewhat horrifying story of how KV Pharmaceutical has been retroactively granted a monopoly on the drug Makena
, which is use to prevent premature births. The product has been on the market for years, and normally costs about $10 per dose... but thanks to the new monopoly, the price is immediately jumping up to an astounding $1,500
per dose -- and this is something that many pregnant women need around 20 doses of during their pregnancy. That increases the overall price from about $200 to $30,000. For something that's been on the market for years. I'm reminded of Thomas Macaulay's famous statement:
"the effect of monopoly generally is to make articles scarce, to make them dear, and to make them bad."
Tragically, many obstetricians and the March of Dimes had vociferously supported this move, without understanding the basic economics of monopoly pricing. They thought
that granting a monopoly to one company would mean that it would make the drug "more available." Joke's on them, and now they're upset:
"That's a huge increase for something that can't be costing them that much to make. For crying out loud, this is about making money," said Dr. Roger Snow, deputy medical director for Massachusetts' Medicaid program.
"I've never seen anything as outrageous as this," said Dr. Arnold Cohen, an obstetrician at Albert Einstein Medical Center in Philadelphia.
"I'm breathless," said Dr. Joanne Armstrong, the head of women's health for Aetna, the Hartford-based national health insurer.
Doctors say the price hike may deter low-income women from getting the drug, leading to more premature births. And it will certainly be a huge financial burden for health insurance companies and government programs that have been paying for it.
It's really amazing that people don't understand the basics of monopoly pricing and how drastically it has distorted the market for drugs. Hopefully this story of Makena will get some people to wake up as to why this is a massive problem.