How much is a life worth? Are High Drug Costs Justifiable? January 3, 2011 – Cornwall Ontario

Cornwall ON – $500,000 per year for a drug?   For one patient?  Does that make sense to anyone other than the drug company and their share holders?

An Ontario man is fighting for his life.   He has a rare blood condition that is fatal.   Soliris is a US made drug that would save this person’s life.   He would essentially have to be on it for life.


“Your government is forcing patients to wait until their health has deteriorated to such a critical state that the treating hospital must scramble to find funding within their budgets to provide the first infusions of Soliris in an effort to save their lives.”

That’s an awful lot of hospital beds and procedures when you multiply it by the 75-100 people that need this drug to survive.   My question is why on earth should any drug cost that much?

Yes it costs a lot of money to research and discover drugs, but at what point is enough enough?  Where is the balance of what makes sense and what is simply corporate greed or the ability to force people to die?

We face many questions around the world when it comes to health care.   Governments complain about how much of the budget is eaten up by health care costs.   Maybe it’s time to truly nationalize healthcare and reform medicare as we know it rather than simply succumb to lobbying of drug companies and insurance companies here in Canada?

Corporations write off the cost of research as an expense against earnings.   They then charge whatever they can to the market which chiefly is governments; at least here in Canada.

Here in Ontario last year the Provincial government told the drug companies and pharmacists that it was slashing the price they can charge for generics by 25% and eliminating some of the “perks” paid to pharmacists.   That resulted in a lot of gnashing of the teeth and the drug companies playing hardball with shortages of some drugs “occurring” but at the end of the day how long was our healthcare system supporting these extra billions.

How much is a life worth?   Good question, huh?   Should we have a cap on how much each of us can have spent on us in health care dollars and if so should we have a say?    Will people ultimately die because of the high cost of saving their lives?

I’m 46.  As a child we all had general practioners and preventative care was more focused on.

Our system today is massed emergency wards, which cost more to run and are chronically understaffed to the point where infectious and deadly diseases impact those that go there for help and work there.   We seem to only treat people at stages that simply cost a lot to treat or lead to higher fatality rates.

What are we doing to ourselves systemically?   Do we not get to vote and do we not get to have our politicians work hard for what we want?  Is it governments fault or our own for simply not making sure our public servants focus on important issues like healthcare.

In Quebec there are reports of Cancer patients being denied drugs.


“Truly, they are not thinking of the patient first but the budget,” said Blais, who accuses the Conseil du medicament of “systematically refusing” the latest generation of anti-cancer drugs.

“Sometimes we get the impression that the Conseil is acting as if it had received a ministerial directive to recommend the fewest number of medications possible in order to manage a budget of X amount.”

France recently is facing a scandal over public drug policy.


Despite repeated warnings from scientists in France and abroad, the Mediator drug was prescribed to 5,000,000 French people, originally to fight diabetes and later as an appetite-suppressing, slimming pill. A report from the French health inspectorate, due in mid-January, will investigate why successive French health ministers, of the left and right, failed to heed advice that the drug – produced by the French pharmaceutical giant, Servier – was at best useless, and at worst highly dangerous.

Is it too late for all of us or is there something the average Canadian and Ontarian can do about the control of our health system and how our tax dollars are being used?

What do you think Canada?  You can post your comments below.

Scott BeckHomestead Organics


  1. Jamie your question on the cost of this medicine is something that nobody can do a thing about in Canada.Unfortunally these people will die,unless the drug companys come to there aid.But that is unlikely to happen anytime soon.But your article brings me to think. Should our goverments pay for people to have this medicine?Sure anyone and there loved ones with this condition, would demand our goverment pay for this medicine.But realisticly should they, is our goverment obliged to pay for this.People scream when our goverments (city)spend $32000.00 on finding the right person for the job.

  2. Author

    luckyred governments collect taxes and then spend those dollars. That’s something that’s unique to all levels of government. We allegedly have the right to elect those we best feel capable of serving us.

    Personally I see a disconnect where most voters don’t realize that. If more people realized that when they vote they are choosing who gets to spend “Their” money and how we’d probably have more people voting.

    In the French Revolution the people of France felt so disenfranchised they took drastic action. It’s happened in Russia at the turn of the last century as well. Governments have to understand that you can only “exploit” the average voter so far before there’s a backlash of some sorts.

    Whether your a pensioner, someone impoverished, or someone very rich the concept of living within your financial boundaries generally is very clear. There’s a time for debt and there’s bad debt and good debt. Right now our systems are so over bloated with waste that the only result is the over taxation of most of us.

    There needs to be some drastic change and reform of the system. There needs to be accountability.

  3. The pharmaceutical companies exist not to develop and make drugs. They, like every other business exist to make money. And the more the better. There was a time when research at Canadian universities was properly funded, but the business lobby put an end to that. $500,000 a year for a drug to keep one person alive is it too much. That $500,000, if spent properly would save or extend the lives of a lot of people. There’s a finite amount of money to be spent on “health” care, so it should go where it will help the most people. Sad to say but Canadians have decided to fund things like the Olympic games, the G8/G20 sleepover, a futile war, and on and on, so money’s a little short right now.

  4. It’s not justifiable unless it’s for me!

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