Expanding the pill business model

Expanding the pill business model

Summary: Naltrexone costs about $4.50/day, the price of a single pint of Guinness at my local pub. Cancer drugs cost much, much more. How do we apportion that cost among patients, insurers, employers and taxpayers?

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Like millions of Americans with chronic conditions, heart disease in my case, I maintain my health with pills.

I take a statin pill and a combination pill for blood pressure. I add a niacin supplement, a baby aspirin, and an allergy pill, which counteracts a side effect of the hypertension drug.

I feel stupid and old, taking two pills in the morning and four more at night, even though I exercise, watch my weight, and exercise. But my dad had his first heart attack at 47 and I'm still waiting for mine.

In financial terms I am also a reliable business model. I get quarterly blood work, regular check-ups. Without the wife's insurance I really might be dead right now. But for roughly $2,000/year, about $6/day, you have a working writer rather than an invalid.

So the question becomes, any objection to extending this model into other areas of medicine? Into addiction, perhaps? Or cancer?

Ready or not here it comes.

Former surgeon general candidate Sanjay Gupta is out with a feature praising naltrexone, an anti-addiction drug also being examined for use against immune diseases. The New York Times has a piece about this regimen being used against cancer.

(Picture of how naltrexone works from the National Institutes of Health.)

Insurers have concerns, some valid, some less so. The most valid concern is compliance, making certain people take the right dosage of the right drug at the right time.

Then there is the cost. Some of the cancer drugs cost thousands of dollars per month. The cost of managing the disease with oral drugs may exceed that of chemotherapy drips in a hospital.

There are many answers, both simple and complex, to the compliance problem. Pill boxes, Internet alerts that can be sent to an iPhone, follow-up by family and nurses, all help.

Cost is another issue. Naltrexone costs about $4.50/day, the price of a single pint of Guinness at my local pub. Cancer drugs cost much, much more. How do we apportion that cost among patients, insurers, employers and taxpayers?

Topics: Health, Enterprise Software

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