Prescription drugs are usually expensive—and some of them seem outrageously so. Much of that is understandable since some companies have invested years and countless funds in research and development.
And then there are others, the most infamous being what Turing Pharmaceuticals did two years ago. They acquired the drug Daraprim, which had already been on the market for 62 years, and immediately raised its price from $13.50 to $750—for each tablet. Granted, many of the most expensive drugs are needed by only a small percentage of the population, but for those people, it can be life or death. Only one million people in the world suffer from familial lipoprotein lipase deficiency, but the drug to treat this cost $1.2 million a year.
Sure, we could debate finding the balance between adequately funding a drug and charging obscene prices, but I’d like to take the opposite approach and highlight when a completely different tactic was taken.
I’m a Type I diabetic. I’ve been one since I was 21. Had I lived a hundred years ago, I would’ve only lived to age 22. But things changed in the 1920s that made a difference for me and millions of others.
Diabetes had been known for thousands of years, but it was only by the 1920s that researchers figured out the pancreas had something to do with it. On July 27, 1921, scientists at the University of Toronto isolated the culprit as insulin. They did research with dogs. They were able to cause the pancreas to malfunction, then they injected the dogs with insulin—and the dogs were able to chase cars, annoy the family cat, and shed on the furniture. Y’know, normal dog stuff.
Next, they isolated a reasonably pure form of insulin from cattle, and gave it in daily injections to a 14-year-old boy. He was about to chase girls, annoy his sister, and put his feet on the furniture. Y’know, normal teenage boy stuff.
Daily insulin injections were the answer. Now comes the fascinating part.
They gave this information away. The scientists gave the license to produce insulin to any and all pharmaceutical companies for free. No royalty was required.
Immediately, thousands of lives were extended. And because about three million people suffer from Type i diabetes just in the US, these scientists could’ve made a killing, Instead they settled for receiving the Nobel Price for their work.
I am a beneficiary of the life-saving work done by Drs. Frederick Banting and Charles Best. I am also a beneficiary of another life-saving treatment. Sin, rebellion, and death controlled my life—and with them the symptoms of no peace, no joy, and no contentment. I needed blood. The innocent blood of Jesus Christ was shed to take the place of my sin-tainted blood. I was washed clean and purified by the blood of Christ.
I know that without one ounce of doubt. I know who I once was and who I am now, and it can only be explained by the life-saving, life-altering work Jesus Christ did for me.
This gift from Christ was costly, but He gave it away freely.
“In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace” (Eph. 1:7).