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The Blues Singer Who Created America's Hated Drug-Pricing Model

  • `I wish drugs would fall out of the sky free. Don't we all.'
  • Is it possible to set a price too high? Even the guru says yes

To patrons of the Rum Boogie Cafe in Memphis, he’s Mick, a skilled guitarist with a bushy white beard who favors fedoras and sings soulful tunes about fishing and drinking. To Americans outraged by pharmaceutical prices, he just might be the guy to blame.

Not that they would know him. While Mick Kolassa may be a household name to hard-core blues lovers, he’s hardly one to the patients and politicians who complain about avaricious drug companies. But long before 2014’s “Michissippi Mick,” his first album, Kolassa helped revolutionize the way the industry decides what to charge, and how it justifies commanding premiums for game-changing remedies. He doesn’t figure he has anything to apologize for.