A place where I can chronicle my family's journey through cancer. A place where WE can discuss our concerns. A place where WE can inspire each other. A place for hope.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

The Alchemist

This is absolutely RIDICULOUS! A person on the Multiple Myeloma ACOR Listserv recently presented a fascinating, and shocking, question on the forum in regards to the cost of Revlimid.

Which would rather have? A pound of GOLD or a pound of REVLIMID (chemotherapy)?

Recently, someone had expressed her concerns on the MM forum in regards to her not being able to afford her medication, that is, Revlimid. This form of chemotherapy comes in the form of a capsule that is taken once every day for about 3 weeks on, 1 week off. For her, the cost of this medication and ultimately, the cost of a possible remission, is about $10, 052.88 USD for just 21 pills (the cost of one "cycle"). Her pills weigh about four-tenths of an ounce, which means that Revlimid currently retails for about $20,000 USD an OUNCE!

Now, on the other hand, today's approximate GOLD price is about $1, 227 USD per OUNCE right now.

THAT means that if you chose the pound of gold over the pound of Revlimid, you made a very, very big mistake! According to today's current rates, a pound of GOLD is about $20,000 USD, while a pound of REVLIMID is $320, 000 USD!!!! So basically, the leading Multiple Myeloma drug, by weight, is about TWENTY TIMES the value of GOLD! Now just think about this.... If a UPS driver is delivering a supply of Revlimid (say 4 or 5 pounds) on his truck, he's transporting over a MILLION DOLLARS of cargo!

Now, as if that weren't bad enough, another forum member pointed out that only a tiny fraction of the capsule's content consists of the "active ingredient". The majority of the capsule's weight comes from inert components, such as binders and fillers. THAT means that for about 21 capsules, there are only about 521 milligrams of "active ingredient" a.k.a slightly over half a gram of TRUE Revlimid.

THUS, if we readjust our calculations, Revlimid ACTUALLY retails at a "mind-blowing" EIGHT.MILLION.DOLLARS A POUND!

So now, a new question is presented...

Would you rather have a pound of REVLIMID or a pound of weapons grade PLUTONIUM?

According to WikiAnswers, Plutonium sells for about $4,000 USD per gram, which is $1.8 MILLION USD a POUND. Are you catching our drift here? That means that Revlimid is roughly FOUR TIMES the cost of PLUTONIUM!

The cost of pharmaceuticals in exchange for life. Yet another issue that a cancer should NOT have to deal with.

Fucking Ridiculous.

Thank you Mr. Baron for this insightful slap in the face (from none other than BigPharma)!

Needless to say, CHANGE is needed.


  1. Thank God for Big Pharma.

    Take away the profits, and there's no Revlimid.

    It's very easy to say this stuff should just exist -- but when there's no motivation to create it, it will not exist.

    We Myeloma patients are on the razor edge of healthcare where the hard reality is being demonstrated: healthcare is a SERVICE, not a right.

    The reason it is not a right is that unlike freedom of speech, for example, healthcare does not exist unless people work to provide it, including investing in research that results (hopefully) in things that people want. You need others to make it work. Without those others doing it, it doesn't exist in the first place. Therefore it cannot possibly be a natural right.

    There are two methods to make this happen. The first is government putting a gun to somebody's head and saying "you will be in healthcare." We've seen enough of this around the world to know that it is both immoral and unlikely to result in quality healthcare.

    The other method is to allow people to profit from their work.

    Eliminate those profits, and Revlimid (and Velcade, and Melphalan, etc.) do not exist.

    It's not the ideal situation, and it's frustrating and frightening. But as Winston Churchill once said, it's the worst solution except for all the others.

    I'm not an investor in Big Pharma. I'm just a patient. And one that is very thankful that Celgene makes a lot of money off Revlimid. Because if they didn't, I'd be sick instead of in remission.

    Rant mode off -- I hope that you and Mr. Baron both defeat this horrible, horrible disease and have long, healthy and happy lives full of interesting intellectual debates! :)

  2. Nick

    I totally understand your point of view. To me, BigPharma is a double-edged sword. On one hand, we are incredibly grateful for the advances in treatment they have provided. However, I CANNOT believe that charging patients astronomical prices, as described above, is the only possible solution that will provide quality results??? There must be another way

  3. Nick, surgeons gladly do their work for maybe a thousand dollars an hour. Would they perform any better at a million dollars an hour? The arguement here is over OBSCENE profits....like 8 million dollars a pound. Thalidomide is very cheap to make so Celgene created patents that protect its distribution so it can charge 7 grand for 30 capsules. That's obscene. Yes, without the profit motive Revlimid would not exist. But how much profit is necessary before it becomes gouging?

  4. If only safe appetite suppressant exist! It would make life much more easier!

  5. I’m Mike Baron, the Myeloma patient who thought it might change people’s perception of BIG PHARMA if I calculated the RETAIL PRICE of a POUND of REVLIMID. It blew my mind when Frank and I came up with 8 MILLION DOLLARS A POUND! Yeah, I know…….you just cannot accept that Revlimid could cost that much!

    Can you imagine just how tiny Celgene’s SHIPPING DOCK needs to be! Well, I drew a cartoon of Celgene’s shipping dock…plus a few other Celgene gems. If you want to receive my cartoons (just $5,000 per cartoon), just type “CELGENE CARTOONS” on the Subject Line and send your email and VISA CARD number and exp. date to mike@mikejbaron.com

    Just kidding!…my cartoons are FREE to patients and caregivers!