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?