Sometimes it seems like we are living in the Bizarro World when it comes to talking about drug prices. This is one of those times.
The Washington Post's Wonkblog had a Q& A on Sovaldi, the new drug for Hepatitis C that is being sold for $84,000 in the United States. In the final answer about the price of the drug the piece tells readers:
"Sovaldi is cheaper in countries where the government sets drug prices, ranging from $900 in Egypt to $66,000 in Germany."
This is almost the opposite of reality. The price is very high in the United States because the government gives Gilead Sciences (the drug's patent holder) a complete monopoly on the drug's sale. The price is low in Egypt because there is no patent monopoly and manufacturers are free to sell generic versions of the drug. That means the price in Egypt is closer to a free market price. The price in the U.S. is a price that is high because the government will arrest competitors.