Throwing Gas on a fire

Throwing Gas on a fire

Earlier this week Diabetic Investor came under attack for the comments we made regarding the “rising” cost of insulin. About how there was no proof that the “rising” cost of insulin impacted outcomes in any way. Given the veracity of the comments one would think that I insulted Motherhood, America or Apple Pie.

Now in the interest of throwing gas on an already raging fire take a look at this, according to a post of FiercePharma;

“Lilly CEO Lechleiter nabs $16.6M in 2015 pay, with hefty boosts to incentive compensation”

Yes, that’s John Lechleiter CEO of Lilly (NYSE: LLY) who happens to make Humalog which according to another report on FiercePharma;

“Earlier this year, Bloomberg and pricing software provider DRX reported that prices had doubled for 60 drugs since December 2014–and at least quadrupled for 20 more. And last October, a Deutsche Bank analysis highlighted by The Wall Street Journal found companies using hefty price increases–on blockbusters from Biogen’s ($BIIB) Avonex to Eli Lilly’s ($LLY) Humalog to Pfizer’s ($PFE) Lyrica–to keep sales coming.”

Now before we go on here let’s clarify a few things – first we did not say that the “cost” of insulin does not impact outcomes, what we said is there no study that proves this. We also noted that for a segment of the patient population yes the “cost” of insulin likely does impact outcomes, but again there is little data on just how many patients with diabetes either don’t have insurance coverage or are under insured. We also noted the difficulties in proving that the “cost” of insulin is the sole factor impacting outcomes.

Yet, we are sure the folks who think the “rising” cost of insulin is a sin will point to the compensation earned by Mr. Lechleiter as just another example of how pharmaceutical companies don’t care about patients and all they care about is making money. That somehow there is a connection between what Mr. Lechleiter has earned and the “rising” cost of insulin.

Is Lechleiter worth nearly $17 million? Who knows and frankly who cares, expect perhaps for Mrs. Lechleiter. This is like asking if Tom Brady, Bryce Harper or LeBron James are worth the salaries they earn. The reality is this is the world we live in and less we forget this is America and the last time we looked we are still a capitalist economy.

The harsh reality is the “cost” of insulin is like adverse events, when a person is directly impacted they feel the pain more than a person who is observing the situation. Listen we have no doubt that the “cost” of insulin is prohibitive for a segment of the patient population and this “cost” may impact outcomes. However, we do not for a moment believe that the “cost” of insulin is the sole factor or determining factor in outcomes. We maintain that if insulin were given away for free that we would not see a measurable impact on outcomes.