‘Profit or Life?’ (2020)

How much is a human life worth? Ask Big Pharma.


Our weekly documentary film curated by the editorial team at 21WIRE.

From the filmmakers: “How much is a human life worth? An innovative cancer therapy promises to save lives. But it is extremely expensive. Will the insurance companies pay for it? What is the manufacturer’s return on investment? And do lobbyists drive up prices? In 2018, the Kymriah gene therapy was approved in Europe. Immune cells are taken from the patient, genetically reprogrammed into cancer killer cells and returned to the patient as an infusion. The results of the Kymriah study only cover a period of 18 months…..It is not clear whether Kymriah has a long-term effect. The Swiss pharmaceutical company Novartis offers the new therapy – it costs 370,000 Swiss francs ($400.5K) per patient. Health insurance companies are not usually prepared to pay that much and are complaining about a lack of transparency…..Pharmaceutical companies today frequently act as capital providers, cooperating with universities or buying up biotech companies. A paradigm shift has taken place in the pharmaceutical industry: Whereas high drug prices used to be justified by research costs, the industry is now using the value of gained lifetime to argue its case.”

Run time: 42 min
Production: DW Documentary (2020)