… a healthy fear…

Dear Editor,

As if anyone really needed to be awakened to the abuse of U.S. drug companies and their desire to put their profits ahead of everyday peoples’ needs to try to balance medications, groceries, gas, and other essentials, here is one more stark reality.

Novartis paid a lawyer $100,000 per month for the possibility of creating an “inside track,” a “window into the thinking” of my President and his possible decisions regarding the future of healthcare.

As stated by Novartis officials, “In February 2017, shortly after the election of President Trump, Novartis entered into a one-year agreement with Essential Consultants. With the recent change in administration, Novartis believed that Michael Cohen could advise the company as to how the Trump administration might approach certain U.S. healthcare policy matters, including the Affordable Care Act,” the company said in a statement.

“The agreement was for a term of one year, and paid Essential Consultants 100,000 USD per month. In March 2017, Novartis had its first meeting with Michael Cohen under this agreement. Following this initial meeting, Novartis determined that Michael Cohen and Essential Consultants would be unable to provide the services that Novartis had anticipated related to U.S. healthcare policy matters and the decision was taken not to engage further.”(…after that first year)

In a related note, “A first-of-its-kind cancer treatment is generating unbridled excitement — but also underscoring intense concerns over pricing and value.

The drug, which is known as a CAR-T therapy, is expected to dramatically raise the chance of survival for children who have an aggressive form of leukemia and fail to respond to other treatments.

The $475,000 price tag comes with a money-back guarantee: If a patient (the child) fails to respond in the first month, there will be no charge.

Hmmmm, so does one hope that the drug works and worry later about how to pay, or watch the drug fail and somehow justify you at least tried?

Oh, that drug– CAR-T therapy. It was developed in part with tax payer monies.

From David Mitchell, Founder and President of Patients For Affordable Drugs, regarding Novartis? decision to price its CAR-T drug, Kymriah, at $475,000 per treatment.

“As a cancer patient, the potential of CAR-T is exciting and I applaud FDA’s approval. It means hope for hundreds of children and their families, and we’re all excited at the potential for cancer patients.

“But let’s remember, American taxpayers invested over $200 million in CAR-T’s discovery. To date, Novartis has not acknowledged the significance of taxpayers’ investment, and the company declined to detail its own investment.

“While Novartis” decision to set a price at $475,000 per treatment may be seen by some as restraint, we believe it is excessive. Novartis should not get credit for bringing a $475,000 drug to market and claiming they could have charged people a lot more.

“The drug pricing system in America is completely broken. Until policy in this country changes, the vicious cycle of patients struggling under high drug prices will continue.”

Statement from Patients For Affordable Drugs on Novartis’ Drug Price

It is time for health care for all.

And to build one or two fewer aircraft carriers. Win-win.


Scott R. Blume,