Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Greedy drug makers

I read an article in The New York Times yesterday that is, as far as I’m concerned, the "writing on the wall."

The article said that in the last year the drug-making industry has raised the wholesale prices of brand-name prescription drugs by about 9 percent. That will add more than $10 billion to the nation's drug bill, which will exceed $300 billion this year. The drug companies say they have valid business reasons for price increases. Critics say they’re only trying to establish a higher price base before Congress passes legislation that tries to curb drug spending in coming years.

The Times article quotes a Harvard health economist saying he found a similar pattern of unusual price increases from the drug makers after Congress added drug benefits to Medicare, giving tens of millions of older Americans federally subsidized drug insurance. Just as the program was taking effect in 2006, the drug industry raised prices in a move to maximize their profits.

The drug companies say they have to raise their prices to invest in research and development of new drugs.

I say it’s greed.

Bottom line: drug companies can charge whatever they want.

from: The New York Times
By Duff Wilson

“The drug industry has actively opposed some of the cost-cutting provisions in the House legislation, which passed Nov. 7 and aims to cut drug spending by about $14 billion a year over a decade.

“But the drug makers have been proudly citing the agreement they reached with the White House and the Senate Finance Committee chairman to trim $8 billion a year — $80 billion over 10 years — from the nation’s drug bill by giving rebates to older Americans and the government. That provision is likely to be part of the legislation that will reach the Senate floor in coming weeks. 

“But this year’s price increases would effectively cancel out the savings from at least the first year of the Senate Finance agreement. And some critics say the surge in drug prices could change the dynamics of the entire 10-year deal. 

“‘It makes it much easier for the drug companies to pony up the $80 billion because they’ll be making more money,’ said Steve D. Findlay, senior health care analyst with the advocacy group Consumers Union...”

If the drug companies can change the price of their products whenever they want to, then shouldn't we as consumers be able to shop for the best prices... anywhere in the world?

Example: Alpha Lipoic Acid. At the clinic here in the States it's $350 for five vials. In Germany, the same medicine costs $150 for five vials. I could have it shipped from Germany for $28.50.  Total savings: $171.50.

This makes me crazy.


  1. That is when you can even get the medications.

    I finally talked the Dr into giving him those "morphine" lollipops. Spent hours on the phone yesterday; calling pharmacies in 2 states; trying to find one that has them. No one wants to touch certain narcotics.

    I have no clue how expensive they will be; it's going to take a few days to get them in.

    Story is the same for brand percocet. Not many pharmacies even stock it.