For decades, drugmakers made billions in profits—much of it off the backs of taxpayers—from anemia drugs that proved to do very little for patients. The Washington Post takes a look at how this was allowed to happen, which includes how some doctors and drugmakers worked together to become rich:
“It was just so easy to do — you put this stuff in the patient’s arm, and you made thousands of dollars,” said Charles Bennett, endowed chair at the Medication Safety and Efficacy Center of Economic Excellence at the University of South Carolina and one of the critics of the use of the drug in cancer patients. “An oncologist could make anywhere from $100,000 to $300,000 a year from this alone. And all the while they were told that it was good for the patient.”
Take, for example, the doses of Aranesp that Jim Lenox was given several times during his cancer treatment, though not the injection he received at the hospital, which was Procrit.
The insurance company reimbursed the clinic about $900 for each, according to his patient records. The clinic would have paid about $600 for a dose of that size, at average prices from that time, meaning a profit of roughly $300 per administration.
“Jim trusted the doctors,” Sherry Lenox said.
What do you do when you can’t trust your doctor with your life? How many second opinions can you get before you know what the right answer is?