Thursday, September 24, 2015

GOP capitulation to Big Pharma has enabled ruinous drug price spikes

The former hedge fund manager and cofounder of the Turing Pharmaceutical company has received the lion's share of publicity for recent, outrageous drug price increases, but the problem is much larger.
     Consider these recent increases in important life-saving drugs:

Cycloserine (used to treat multidrug-resistant TB)
Price increased from $500 $10,800
Heart drugs:
Isuprel : 5x price increase by Marathon; subsequent 525% increase by Valeant
Nitropress: 5x price increase by Marathon; subsequent 212% increase by Valeant
Doxycycline: $20 per bottle in October 2013 to $1849 in April 2014

A subsequent Times story explained that drug consolidation even affects generic formulations:
For many generic drugs, industry consolidation has left only one or two companies making a particular medicine. That's led to lengthy shortages for an increasing number of crucial medicines, driving up prices, particularly for drugs for infections, blood pressure and seizures. Even without shortages, prices have jumped tenfold or more for generics only made by one or two companies.
The blame for the status of the U.S. status as the most expensive place on earth to get medicinal drugs lies squarely at the threshold of the GOP and the pharmaceutical lobby. Said the Times in an editorial on Tuesday:
     At Republican insistence, that law barred the federal government from negotiating with drug manufacturers. It relied on bargaining by private insurers that manage drug benefits for Medicare patients, like UnitedHealth, Aetna and CVS Caremark, to wring discounts from the drug makers.
     That wasn’t enough.
     The Congressional Budget Office has long concluded that curbing Medicare drug spending requires that federal officials have stronger tools, like the power to offer preferential treatment to drug makers that offer big discounts... Congressional Republicans would no doubt balk at having the federal government negotiate Medicare drug prices, but the public is clamoring for action, and it’s the right thing to do.

1 comment:

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