Americans Are Outraged Over Price Hikes on Life-Saving Drugs
(note: this article updated 11-20-2016)
Outraged is exactly how I feel every time a story comes out about extreme increases in the price of a drug. And for no REAL reason at all. Just greed pure and simple. If you don’t know what I am talking about, here are a few headlines of late:
Epipen raises cost of dosage by about 450% !
Turing Pharmaceuticals Drug Goes From $13.50 a Tablet to $750, Overnight. Says 5,000% price bump is necessary.
Allergan Drug Company Releases Alzheimer’s Drug A Year Before It Goes Generic To Get People Hooked On The Time Release Version
And the list goes on...
Huge Valeant Price Hike On Lead Poisoning Drug Sparks Anger
Rodelis Therapeutics Purchased Rights To Tuberculosis Drug Cycloserine - Promptly Bumps Price From $500 To $10,800 For 30 Capsules
These are not headache pills, or tablets to get rid of your indigestion! These are Life or Death Medications!
Why are drug companies doing this?
How do they get away with it?
“If you can overcharge people by billions of dollars, it just makes good business sense to spend $109 million to try and defeat a proposition that is going to cut into your obscene profits that are putting peoples’ lives at risk,” -Jamie Court, president and chairman of the board for the Santa Monica-based Consumer Watchdog organization
One reason is that some people believe that even if medicines are expensive initially, competition from generics will eventually drive prices down. But prices have risen sharply even for drugs with multiple suppliers and even generics. The United States is the only developed country that doesn’t cap or negotiate the price of prescription medicines, which means drug makers can charge whatever they like.
Also drug companies have in many cases extended their patents by making small changes to the product, though it isn’t clear that they’ve made it safer or more effective. Thus generic drugs are unable to come into the market, some consider this “patent extension” practice to be unethical at the least, and some think it should be illegal.
In the Allergan Alzheimer’s drug Namenda XR case, the company used nefarious tactics to push patients from the original pill to the new, “Time Released” pill, with a new patent. The new “Timed Released” pill had a brand new patent and once people were "hooked" on it they could not go back to the MUCH CHEAPER pill. Was that criminal? You may have your own opinion however according to the law it was not. Was it ethical? Well was getting seniors hooked on a new drug and forceing seniors to pay over 1000% more for a drug they desperately needed ethical? Not much more to say about that is there.
So then, drug companies do this, make these unexplainable - unethical drug price increases because they rake in huge profits on the backs of seniors and others on fixed budgets, and they can pay huge dividends and giant executive bonuses.
And they get away with it because there seems to be no law on the books today that will stop them.
Yet that is not the worst of this terrible problem. Now it seems that Drug Companies are willing to Spend Millions of their massive profits to Keep Drug Prices High.
"When 61 passes here, this idea is going to spread like wildfire across the country and that scares the hell out of the pharmaceutical drug industry." - Jamie Court, Consumer Watchdog
Currently there is a fierce and extremely expensive political battle going on in California over the passage of Proposition 61, an initiative which is intended to lower pharmaceutical prices paid by the state. The November ballot measure’s official name is the California Drug Price Relief Act, although its opponents call it the “Deceptive Rx Proposition.”
The battle over this measure is one of the most expensive ever in California of its type, as drug companies are pouring millions of dollars into their effort to defame and defeat the initiative. More money then it seems has ever been spent.
As of October 25, the “No on 61” campaign has received about $109 million — an increase of $22,038,414 since the end of September, a little more than 20 percent increase in just three weeks, according to the California Secretary of State’s office. The majority of the money coming from the drug companies themselves and the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA), a trade group representing those firms.
And though the biggest pharmaceutical firms have contributed millions to the No on 61 campaign, their contributions are not even a drop in the bucket when compared to their sales figures. Merck alone reported revenues in 2015 of $17.5 billion, just in the U.S., and total revenues of $39.5 billion worldwide.
That's almost 40 Thousand Million Dollars!
“If Big Pharma threatens to raise prices on vets and everyone else once the proposition passes, that is called blackmail…Prop. 61 will be a benchmark and will create pressure for downward pricing of drugs across the board.” - AHF General Counsel Tom Myers told Capital & Main
A spokesman for the Yes on 61 campaign, Roger Salazar, was optimistic however. He is quoted as saying, “California is the drug companies’ largest market…They’re not going to pull out of here. And if they decide to raise the prices on veterans out of spite, they will have to explain that to the American people and to the Congress, and I don’t think they will want to take the PR hit this will deliver.”
The Drug Companies Are Sticking It To Senior Citizens
So how does all this make you feel? Are the actions of Big Pharma when they impose ridiculous price increases on Life or Death drugs for seniors making you furious?
Some people feel like the Drug Companies are Sticking It To Them. What about the people you care for?
Federal Judge Stops Obama Administration's Overtime Pay Rule
U.S. District Judge Amos Mazzant has sided with plaintiffs in the case who complained that the new overtime rules would have caused an uptick in government costs in their states and made it mandatory for businesses to pay millions in additional salaries. Business groups said the new rule changes would have eventually led to layoffs.
Yet did the complaints argue the facts of the law - or simply that it would cost business owners more money, while rightly reimbursing workers for overtime hours?
The measure, set to take effect Dec. 1, was intended to send a jolt to slow-growing U.S. incomes. The Labor Department's wide ranging overhaul to the overtime rule required employers to pay time-and-a-half to their employees who worked more than 40 hours in a given week and earned less than $47,476 a year.
Supporters of the rule called it "long overdue" as inflation took its toll on overtime protection.
A great many professional caregivers may have benefit from the rule, affecting the “manager” or even “part time” status of some which often required working overtime for no additional pay.
Some business groups who were plaintiffs in the case said the new rule changes would have eventually led to layoffs.
However The Department of Labor issued the following statement regarding federal court's preliminary injunction.
"We strongly disagree with the decision by the court, which has the effect of delaying a fair day's pay for a long day's work for millions of hardworking Americans. The department's overtime rule is the result of a comprehensive, inclusive rulemaking process, and we remain confident in the legality of all aspects of the rule. We are currently considering all of our legal options."
Please return to this website in the coming days for updates on this important subject.
Federal judge blocks Obama Administration rule that would have extended overtime eligibility to some four million Americans!
In March 2014, President Obama directed Labor Secretary Tom Perez to modernize overtime protections. A federal judge Tuesday blocked implementation of the new rule set to go into effect December 1st.
U.S. District Judge Amos Mazzant rules to block benefit to millions of workers!
One week before new rule kicks in, Judge Mazzant snatches benefit from workers like a dog stealing the turkey from the Thanksgiving table!
How will the new FLSA laws affect the cost of Assisted Living and Senior Care Homes?
According to the official government website for the act, it will have an impact.
“Hospitals and other institutions “primarily engaged in the care of the sick, the aged, or the mentally ill” are covered employers under the FLSA (Fair Labor Standards Act). Special rules (8 and 80 Overtime System) apply to the payment of overtime to employees of hospitals and residential care establishments, such as nursing facilities, skilled nursing facilities, assisted living facilities, residential care facilities, and intermediate care facilities for individuals with disabilities.” – United States Department of Labor, DOL website - italics ours
The overtime laws are sometimes referred to by employers and the DOL as - The “Eight and Eighty” (8 and 80) Overtime System. According to the government, many Assisted Living facilities will need to be certain to heed the updated law if they were not in the past, or face penalties.
The reality is many Assisted Living facilities will be paying more overtime to comply with the updated law. Others will try to increase staff working less than full time/overtime to try to keep costs down. Many times this can result in greater turn over of employees, thus another source of increased cost, as it can be expensive to train and integrate a new employee.
In the end, the monthly and yearly cost of Assisted Living and Senior Care Home living may very well go up. How much remains to be seen.
If you are concerned about this for existing seniors, or if you are starting to search for Senior Home living, the best thing you can do is use a source like Senior Home Search to find the homes and facilities operating in your area and to contact them directly to ask for information.
Senior Home Search is one of the leading Senior Home and Assisted Living websites that give you Direct Contact Information – not an “800” number to a sales person. Using this website you can get information such as:
- Direct contact Phone Numbers to the homes.
- Contact and Information forms that are delivered directly to the home owners.
- Email addresses of the homes you see
- Detailed information about the home including number of beds, services provided and amenities.
- Photos of the home and its rooms
- Maps and Directions directly to each home
These are just a few of the reasons why you should be using Senior Home Search to find how the new labor laws will affect the cost of Assisted Living near you.
For Assisted Living and Senior Care Home operators, a good source of information is at the U.S. Department of Labor website. One page provides an FLSA Overtime Calculator Advisor section.
This new report released by the well known special interest and lobbying organization AARP may not be what you would expect.
According to the survey of just over 1,800 family caregivers, spending on out-of-pocket (OOP) expenses averaged $6,954 dollars over a one year period. The new AARP Research Report, “Family Caregiving and Out-of-Pocket Costs: 2016 Report” stated that caregivers may be putting “their own economic and retirement security at risk” by stepping up to help a loved one.
In addition, the report also found that family caregivers of adults with dementia had nearly twice the OOP costs ($10,697) than those caring for adults without dementia.
Family caregivers stated they were dipping into savings, cutting back on personal spending, saving less for retirement, or taking out loans to pay for the cost of care. And most said they experienced a work-related strain such as having to take unpaid time off.
Do these numbers surprise you? With well over 34 million unpaid caregivers in the U.S., one may wonder about the accuracy of the findings (only 1,864 caregivers participated in the survey). After talking to some here at PAL Caregivers, many feel the reported cost of family caregiving is understated and the report is unrealistic. Regardless of the motives of AARP for publishing this information, many feel that the time for a National Plan for Long-Term Care Insurance is now.
With an estimated 21% of households in the United States dealing with the cost of family caregiving and many putting “their own economic and retirement security at risk”, the issue of the Cost of Caregiving must be addressed.
Let us know what you think and what kind of help family caregivers need now. We encourage your comments.
Editors Note: AARP, Inc., formerly the American Association of Retired Persons, is a United States-based interest group with a membership founded in 1958 by Ethel Percy Andrus, Ph.D., a retired educator from California, and Leonard Davis, later the founder of the Colonial Penn Group of insurance companies
Read the full AARP report Here: Family Caregiving and Out-of-Pocket Costs: 2016 Report