Is price inflation of healthcare medicines justifiable?

How often do your patients lament about the escalating costs of medicines and hospital fees? Things just appear to spiral up, leaving quality healthcare out of reach of average income earners.

New drugs come with a hefty price tag. The standard reply from the pharmaceutical companies is probably “high cost of research and development”. It would take years before the patent on these new drugs expire. Sure, pharmaceutical companies need to make a profit too but how justifiable is it to put such a high price tag?

How do these companies arrive at such a price? How much was truly spent? One wonders as to why pharmaceutical companies remain cash rich, often treating doctors lavishly. Can they lower the prices and spend less on expensive materials for usually unnecessary brochures? Should doctors, especially consultants, pay for their conference fees and travel expenses, rather than depend on handouts from pharmaceutical companies? Can we then cut the cost of medicines?

The true advance in medicine is when we can make it affordable to all humankind. What is the point of creating expensive drugs when it is out of reach of those that truly need them? Do we call this a leap forward?

Insurance coverage for healthcare is usually quite pathetic. It is exhaustive with high premiums, often a burden to many with chronic illnesses. Governments, like in Malaysia, is not spending enough on healthcare, often channeling much needed funds to defence and mega projects. So there are still many average Malaysians, spending their retirement funds on healthcare. I find this disgusting and unacceptable.

Some governments, much to the chagrin of pharmaceutical companies and richer nations, have broken the patent on new drugs, so that their citizens can have access to them. Why should these governments have to resort to such measure? Much of the developed world have been closing a blind eye to poorer nations.

Should we not put a cap on the escalating cost of healthcare? Can newer medicines be cheaper? I feel we can do much more to bring the cost down.

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