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the cost of « beauty »

07 - 29 - 2002 dans Action 81

New Fill : Laglenne slows the progress of acces to this drug, used to treat scarring side-effects in AIDS patients.

Pharmaceutical companies often justify the prices they charge (much higher than the costs of actually making the drugs) by quoting a necessary and very expensive research.

In the case of New-Fill, this argument doesn’t hold. Its basic ingredient, polylactic acid, has been around for more than 25 years, both in medication (where it allows prolonged release) and in absorbable stitches.

Mrs. Laglenne likes to introduce herself as a kind doctor, but the only thing she did was to patent polylactic acid as a product to treat wrinkles.

It appears that this product also helps repair facial lipoatrophies, one of the most stigmatizing side effects of the antiretroviral drugs. Since the amount needed to treat a face ravaged by lipoatrophy is a lot more than to treat wrinkles, one would think that Mrs. Laglenne might think of lowering the price somewhat. Outside the therapeutic trials and the compassionate access provided in some hospitals (only available to their patients), it is the sick who have to cover the cost for the costs of this drug. But for Biotech, it seems, a person suffering from AIDS and a woman who wants to keep her skin looking youthful are one and the same.

A kit containing two flasks of New Fill is made for a total sum of 10 to 15 €. These kits used to be sold to a distributor for 91 €, who resolds them to doctors for 259 €, who would then inject the medication (some unscrupulous doctors took their own margin, or charged exorbitant fees for the treatment).

But during negotiations with health insurers who wanted to cover this product, Biotech suddenly raised the kit’s price to 103 €. This sharp rise in price would mean being reimbursed by the Social Security for the cost of New-Fill would be considerably slower. And this brings the price for the sick person at the end of the supply chain up to 274 €. This therapy is therefore only available to those who can afford to pay between 1,500 and 2,000 € (the cost of 5 to 7 sessions).

This is quite an astonishing product. Not only does it fill wrinkles and hollows in the face, it also fills pockets… Biotech’s pockets, that is.

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