Starbucks donates for World AIDS Day: Are generic drugs the solution? (Part 3)

In the last two posts, we discussed Starbucks donating money for World AIDS Day. In part 1, I discussed now Starbucks donates money to The Global Fund, which in turn buys antiretroviral (ART) drugs for HIV patients in poorer countries. In part 2, I discussed why pharmaceutical companies don’t have incentive to actually cure HIV/ AIDS, since they can profit off lifetime customers by simply prolonging the disease. So what’s the light at the end of this depressing tunnel?


The good news: generic ART drugs
The Global Fund’s website says the yearly cost per patient for ART drugs decreased from ~$10,000 in 2000 to ~$100 today.

Their huge cost decrease means one of two things:
1) They are buying generic drugs
2) The brand name ART pharmaceutical companies lowered their prices to match the new generic drug prices, to avoid losing business

Good for a non-obvious reason
Either way, this isn’t a good thing just because of the money saved per treatment. It’s good because the decrease in profits for the pharmaceutical companies may give them the incentive to develop a cure.

Maybe they’re not making $$$$, but they’re still making $ — so not necessarily
It may not, because as an industry, they’re still raking in a guaranteed $100 per year per person x 4.2 million people = $420 million per year. Remember, this money is guaranteed because these are lifetime customers we’re talking about, since the drugs are designed so the infected must take them forever.

Lets hope the pharmaceutical companies decide the generic prices cut into their profits too much. Maybe it’ll push them to come out with an actual “cure” soon. Good can happen, even if it’s purely for the sake of pharmaceutical companies wanting to make a higher profit margin.

Posted in Healthcare Tagged with: , ,

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