Why Government Intervention In The Market Is The Real Reason Patients Are Denied 5p Breast Cancer Pill

patientsAccording to the front page of today’s i newspaper, big bad business is at it again.

New research has shown that a life-saving breast cancer treatment costing only five pence is being denied to patients “because pills aren’t profitable enough for drug firms”.

The obvious takeaway here is that Big Pharma won’t even get out of bed in the morning to save people’s lives if there is no money to be made in producing cheap pills.

But wait a minute. The article behind the headline tells a completely different story. One of government intervention in the market adversely affecting the public good.

The fact is that these pills are already being made by drug firms, albeit for the treatment of osteoporosis. Presumably doing so is “profitable enough” and whether they are consumed by those with osteoporosis or breast cancer won’t change that.

No, the real reason for the market’s failure to meet an obvious demand is government intervention in said market.

It turns out that patients are being denied these cheap pills for no other reason than the government hasn’t licensed them for use in the treatment of breast cancer. It has nothing to do with lack of profitability and everything to do with “the sometimes lengthy and costly process of securing a licence for the drug to be used in a new way”.

The i newspaper has got the wrong end of the stick. Big bad business isn’t at fault here. Big bad government is.

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