From an editorial Tuesday in Newsday:
At a news conference before his inauguration, Donald Trump said the pharmaceutical industry was “getting away with murder” because “pharma has a lot of lobbies and a lot of lobbyists and a lot of power.”
Now as president, Trump has a perfect opportunity to call out a drugmaker and the system. The Food and Drug Administration has given its approval for use in the United States of deflazacort, a steroid that people have been importing for $1,200 a year to fight Duchenne muscular dystrophy.
With FDA approval, however, the drug will become illegal to import and that monopoly means Marathon Pharmaceuticals can charge $89,000 a year for the drug for seven years thanks to “orphan drug” rules for rare diseases.
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The company says it will try to provide the drug free of charge to people with no insurance or those who can’t afford the $89,000. It’s mostly insurance companies that Marathon is targeting. But programs to help those who can’t afford drugs often don’t work as well as promised. And if the insurance companies do pay for deflazacort, it will cost us all a fortune in higher insurance prices.
Stung by a public outcry, Marathon has hit pause on its plans. This offers Trump a great opportunity to take on both a profiteering drug company and a senseless set of FDA rules. He should seize it.