Marathon, a shining example of our flawed healthcare system

An example of what’s wrong with our healthcare system

There are numerous problems plaguing our healthcare system. Politicians and the American people can’t agree on most of them. After reading this though, I think most of us can agree that Marathon is clearly in the wrong.

Treatment for MD before Marathon

Those with muscular dystrophy (MD), a disease that effects mostly young boys, are often prescribed steroids to manage their disease. Until recently, there was no FDA approved treatment. Most patients were prescribed a drug called deflazacort to be used off-label, since it had fewer side-effects than, the American produced steroid, predinsone. Since a domestically produced deflazacort was not available, and there was no FDA approved treatment, families were allowed to import and use this, $150 per month, relatively low-cost treatment.

Now the same rule that once allowed the import, has now been twisted to stop it being imported, and is forcing families to pay an American company outrageous sums of money.

Marathon, an Illinois-based pharmaceutical company, gets FDA approval and commences price gouging.

Marathon, decided to go through the trouble of getting FDA approval for this already widely used treatment. Once they achieved this, they began manufacturing deflazacort, renamed it Emflaza, and started selling this drug that they had no part in developing. Because a U.S. based manufacturer now offers the drug, under current rules, it can no longer be imported. With the import closed off, all US patients are now forced to buy from Marathon, and a monopoly at treating the disease has been born. Marathon has taken full advantage of the monopoly and is now charging patients, most of whom are children, $89,000 per year for their treatment.

The FDA loophole effectively took an affordable treatment out of the hands of thousands. Marathon could have chosen to act ethically and offered a competitively priced treatment. The FDA could have allowed the imported drug to be offered, bending the rules so those facing death before 30 could suffer a little less. Instead, the FDA allowed Marathon to take full advantage of the loophole and of those suffering, and set an astronomical price.

 This is what is wrong with our healthcare system.

A loophole that closes off effective, affordable, treatment, improving the lives of children suffering from a fatal disease, should not exist. That the treatment wasn’t taken away because of issues with it’s efficacy or safety, but because an America manufacturer was able to jump through a few hoops and create a duplicate drug domestically, is outrageous.

Marathon managed to create a money-making monopoly by exploiting the rules imposed by our regulators with little thought to the children affected. Who needs comic book villains when we have pharmaceutical companies.

This is sad moment for those suffering. Hopefully public backlash and legal actions force Marathon to back down and motivate reform in healthcare.

ource of inspiration for this post

A Web Developer by trade, find me on Github
A motorcycle enthusiast at heart.
Most days I’d rather be in the woods anywhere.