Unless you have your head in the dirt, you probably know by now that pharmaceutical companies have been getting away with price gouging consumers for life saving drugs. An example of this is when the price of epipens went up from $100 in 2007 to $608 in 2016. They are able to get away with this because they have patents which prohibit competitors.
My proposed solution would be to set a price ceiling for prescription drugs in return for getting a patent. Companies found charging too much will not be fined but rather lose their patent (any competitor may swoop in and sell it for a lower price).
I suspect that if you carefully examine the substance of what most folks mean by "price gouging," you'll find they mean: "Price gouging is the happenstance whereby a seller asks a buyer to pay a price that's higher than the buyer would like to pay, and that yet the buyer is willing to pay."
IMO, there's no such thing as "price gouging."
- Who determines the sum one will accept for a good/service? The seller.
- What determines the minimum sum the seller will accept? The seller's profit requirement for the sale.
- Is there a sound reason for sellers not to attempt to maximize their profit? No.
- Who determine the sum one is willing to pay for a good/service? The buyer.
- What determines the maximum sum the buyer will pay? The buyer's assessment of whether the sum paid is worth whatever satisfaction s/he will receive in return and relative to other ways the buyer could spend that same sum of money. ("This" item costs $5. Is it worth more to me to spend my $5 on "this" cup or spend it on "that" other item? Only the buyer gets to make that decision.)
- Is there a sound reason for buyers not to attempt to minimize their expenditure? No.
- Who determines the selling price for a good/service? The buyer and the seller, by mutual agreement.
- No buyer ever purchased anything by paying a sum they were unwilling to pay.
- No seller ever sold anything by accepting a sum they found unacceptable for the good/service they offered for sale.
If one feels so strongly that one thinks the seller's asking price is more than one is willing to pay, don't buy the item. If enough folks feel that way, the seller will "get the clue" and lower its asking price or accept a lower selling price, such that the selling price becomes one the buyer is willing to pay.
Now one may care to not that the item/service being sold/purchased is one that is essential to the life or death of the buyer. Well, yes, that's quite possible, but when that aspect is present in the buy-don't-buy decision -- what economics calls the decision about utility/satisfaction obtained from a given use of resources -- it merely indicates that some decisions are harder to make/not make than others.
Go ask a general, a police chief, a legislator, a corporate executive, a doctor, an attorney, or any number of other principals about hard decisions and one'll find they almost daily make hard decisions, decisions that affect multiple people's lives. In the example the OP-er posed, the buyer is asked to make a buying decision for how many persons? One.
What one sees is that folks get "chicken****" about having to make hard decisions. I say: One's an adult; act like it. Dealing with and making hard decisions is the core meaning of the saying "life is hard." I'm not telling anyone what decision, nor am I going to force one to make "this or that" decision. I'm not doing either of those things because (1) re: the former, few folks ask for my input and (2) re: the latter, staying out of it is what respecting another's freedom of choice requires of me. I'm saying stop bitching and moaning when presented with a hard decision to make; make it, accept the consequences (responding as need be to them) of having made it, and move on.