Seth Kim Blair Academy 12th Grade
In March of 2018, Martin Shkreli was found guilty on charges of securities fraud and conspiracy. He now faces seven years of prison time after mismanaging millions of dollars at his hedge funds. During his sentencing, Shkreli broke into tears and pleaded the judge for leniency, a complete change from the smug grins and nonchalant attitude he held at his trials.
It is ironic that Shkreli’s conviction has nothing to do with the source of his infamy. He first became known as the “most hated man in America” after hiking up the price of Daraprim, a life-saving drug for HIV patients, from ＄13.50 a pill to ＄750. This sudden increase in cost, though relatively uncommon, is indicative of the growing healthcare costs in America as a whole.
For the past few decades, the U.S. has had the highest per-capita healthcare costs in the world, and they’ve only been increasing at an exponentially faster rate. One of the many reasons for this phenomenon is that there is no federal legislation restricting prices. After the Daraprim controversy, other pharmaceutical companies have follow suit and raised the price of heart medications and even Epipens by over 500%. Executives were ordered to appear at congressional hearings as the public angrily watched on the sidelines, so why are these price hikes still allowed to happen?
The simple answer, though complex by nature, is that it’s the law. According to the Orphan Drug Act, companies are given a 7-year monopoly for any new treatments approved by the FDA. The lack of competition and price caps then fosters an industry that is allowed to thrive on the individual’s greed. The legal incentives ironically help companies introduce novel treatment into the market but not the patients for whom the drugs were developed.
These upcoming months will be a crucial determining period for the future health of all Americans, as President Trump continues to weaken Obamacare and promote his own branded healthcare plan. It will affect those who have chronic illnesses, those who are pregnant, those who require Medicaid, and millions more. Now is not the time to shy away from politics and idly sit on the sidelines once more. Now is the time to hear from a multitude of opinions and perspectives in the hopes of creating a better tomorrow.
<Seth Kim Blair Academy 12th Grade