Most people who have taken classes that discuss ethics have had the Heinz dilemma thrust upon them. The situation is instantly recognizable; your loved one is diagnosed with a terminal disease, there is a cure, but the drug costs $20,000. The pharmacist who created it is charging $200,000 dollars and you cannot afford it as you were only able to raise $50,000. The pharmacist will not decrease the price or make a payment plan. You then consider stealing it.
Do you steal the drug? Do you leave the $50,000? Do you do nothing?
For most people, this is an exercise that leads to some debate in class; maybe you remember it, maybe you’re already on that term paper that is due the next day that you have yet to start. For many, this has become their reality. Cancer drugs can routinely cost more than $100,000 a year, more for those who require specialized or more extensive treatments. Those who require this treatment are often left with a large majority of the cost that isn’t covered by insurance or subsidized in some way. Many of these drugs have seen multiple-fold increases in price since their arrival on the market.
Doctors are now joining together in order to protest this price gauge, claiming that drug prices must be lowered in order to be used by the population. Many under a certain income may be eligible to receive their medications for free from the company, but so many are left with monstrous bills. The profits for the pharmaceutical companies are staggering, and now much of it is going back into research to further more advancements in the field. The U.S. is also falling behind in survival rates of these diseases, possibly due to lack of access to affordable medications and healthcare.
These doctors who are fighting against pharmaceutical profits may face detrimental results for their careers, but they report that it is the morality which is pushing them forward.
So what is moral?
By: Courtney Kidd, LMSW
SJS Staff Writer
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