Letters and comments, 10/05/15

Minnesota Daily Readers

Comment on “Policy change comes too late”
 
Some, or even most, people on campus may not be aware that, in late May 2015, the state Legislature passed a bill, promptly signed into law by Gov. Mark Dayton. 
 
This law — in one of its sections — requires that the University of Minnesota send monthly  progress reports to the state Legislature about its implementation of  the recommendations made last year by the Association for the Accreditation of Human Research Protection Program, the external panel that found numerous ethical lapses at the University. 
 
One can’t help but wonder if this law — this long overdue oversight — had anything to do with “expediting” this fix of the 72-hour-hold matter. 
 
By the way, the University’s progress reports are public and easily found on the web.
 
– Dennis Hejhal via mndaily.com
 
 
Letter responding to “LGB adults expect to need care as they age”
 
I was surprised when I read this article. Although it acknowledges that “LGB adults report worse physical and mental health than do their heterosexual counterparts,” there is little to no discussion to explain that gap. 
 
I waited and waited for a discussion of one of the major reasons for that gap, but there wasn’t one. 
 
One of the major reasons, of course, is gay and bisexual men are much more likely to be on the HIV/AIDS spectrum than their heterosexual counterparts. Yes, there was, and still is, an AIDS epidemic in our midst that seriously impacts the LGB community both now and in the foreseeable future. 
 
Although HIV/AIDS is considered a “manageable” disease today, all people with HIV/AIDS will die eventually, and many of us will need, but may not receive, long-term care.
 
 -John Mehring, Minnesota Daily reader
 
 
Pharmaceutical industry needs regulation
 
Turing Pharmaceuticals and its CEO, Martin Shkreli, made headlines and generated massive outrage recently after the company raised the price of a 62-year-old drug by more than 5,000 percent, from $13.50 to $750  per tablet. The drastic hike would result in annual treatment costs of hundreds of thousands of dollars  for some patients who depend on the drug, which only cost $1 per tablet several years ago . 
 
The drug, Daraprim, is used to treat toxoplasmosis, a parasitic infection that can be life-threatening to individuals such as AIDS and cancer patients, as well as pregnant mothers and their babies.
 
The price hike was met with fierce backlash and anger. Shkreli’s unapologetic responses to the situation and his insistence that the price hike was necessary  for his company to be profitable galvanized the public to vilify the company and its chief. 
 
Shkreli and Turing have since backtracked in the wake of the controversy, announcing that they would reduce the price increase, but they have not indicated what the new price will be. 
 
Despite this small victory, however, the case of Daraprim is only one small part of a giant problem. Turing’s actions, which would make life-saving treatments inaccessible for many people and lead hospitals and pharmacies to be unable to stock the drug, are completely legal. 
 
Pharmaceutical companies currently face incredibly limited regulation or oversight into their pricing practices. These companies and their massive lobbies  have effective control over potentially life-saving treatments and the determination of who has access to them . Drug price inflation and other inequities in healthcare pricing disproportionately affect the poor and other marginalized groups. 
 
The troublesome practices and unequal power in the pharmaceutical industry, as highlighted by recent events, have elevated these issues in the public eye. With this increased interest comes an opportunity to pressure legislators to take decisive action in reforming this inequitable and unbalanced system. With the correct oversight, there is room in the industry for policies that are both economically sound and morally just.
 
– Partners in Health ENGAGE, University student group