And it’s the people’s fault, too.
Most Americans have zero understanding of free-market capitalism, and are interested only in government “protections,” namely the regulation of production, in the belief that government interference can reduce costs and get Big Bad Business to behave.
If only Americans, brainwashed in the nation’s government-controlled schools, understood the less intuitive truth and aimed the arrows in their quiver at Big Bad Government, the real bad actors.
In the case of the “EpiPen sticker shock,” bureaucrats at the FDA (US Food and Drug Administration)—beholden to keeping the bureaucracy alive, not getting innovation to market—practically gum-up the process whereby other makers of the product can enter the allergy antidote market and trigger competitive forces.
Then there are the patent grants of government privilege. By granting EpiPen makers patents for posterity—yes, this is government’s fault—these lengthy grants of patent privileges prohibit manufactures of generic drugs from entering the market to make comparable products.
Via Slate Star Codex:
… when was the last time that America’s chair industry hiked the price of chairs 400% and suddenly nobody in the country could afford to sit down? When was the last time that the mug industry decided to charge $300 per cup, and everyone had to drink coffee straight from the pot or face bankruptcy? When was the last time greedy shoe executives forced most Americans to go barefoot? And why do you think that is?
The problem with the pharmaceutical industry isn’t that they’re unregulated just like chairs and mugs. The problem with the pharmaceutical industry is that they’re part of a highly-regulated cronyist system that works completely differently from chairs and mugs.
If a chair company decided to charge $300 for their chairs, somebody else would set up a woodshop, sell their chairs for $250, and make a killing – and so on until chairs cost normal-chair-prices again. When Mylan decided to sell EpiPens for $300, in any normal system somebody would have made their own EpiPens and sold them for less. It wouldn’t have been hard. Its active ingredient, epinephrine, is off-patent, was being synthesized as early as 1906, and costs about ten cents per EpiPen-load. …
* “Should Policymakers Trust The Free Market To Meet Urgent Demand For Prescription Drugs?”
* “Patent Wrongs”
To further explore the topic from a libertarian propertarian perspective, click the “Intellectual Property Rights” search category.