Pharmaceutical Companies Choose Money vs. People's Lives

Every university student understands what it’s like to live off a strict budget, whether it means stocking up on ramen in order to have a night out with friends or maybe skipping a night out with friends to buy that shirt we’ve been pining over for months. So what are the implications of pharmaceutical companies drastically increasing the prices of their drugs on students and recent graduates?

Recently Mylan, a pharmaceutical company, increased the price of an EpiPen set to $640, six times the price of what an EpiPen set costed in 2009. It also came to light that the CEO of Mylan received a 600% salary increase that's coinciding with the price chance, leading us to one more question: why are companies increasing the price of life-saving drugs in order to provide themselves with a higher salary?

This generation of business leaders is becoming increasingly interested in profit-making and personal gain over the health and wellness of others. Our news feeds are constantly filled with rising prices of seemingly normal goods, coinciding with workers protesting over not being paid enough for the labor they put into their jobs. And while it may not seem that significant when Starbucks raises the prices of their drinks by 10 or 20 cents, it becomes all too important when people’s lives are put in danger due to the fact that they can’t afford to purchase the drug they need to save their life.

You may be thinking that this is a one-time thing, but it’s important to remember that only a year ago Martin Shkreli was all over the news due to the fact that his company, Turing Pharmaceuticals, raised the price of a treatment for HIV-positive patients from $13.50 to $750. To some people, this price adjustment didn’t matter at all, but to others, it changed their lives. Patients using this drug would have to dish out an extra $600, the price of a laptop or a month’s worth of rent, in order to pay for a drug that was previously the cost of a meal or book.

But what does this mean for us as students? Well, it is extremely common to have allergies, whether it be to peanut butter, dairy, grass, or anything else you could imagine or that you might have yourself. There’s a huge spectrum of allergies with varied responses and reactions and it is so important to have a way to protect yourself in case you accidentally ingest or have a reaction to anything. Basically, a life-saving drug that was once a mere $100 is now costing a student nearly a month’s worth of rent, the cost of their textbooks, or groceries for several months. Although this increase may be insignificant to some, it can be a huge burden to others.

Our society has become so focused on creating profit and self-preservation that it has failed to recognize why businesses even began in the first place: to provide citizens with the resources that they need to survive and live their lives. We should all question why companies and corporations think they have the right to increase their financial assets at the expense of people's lives.