Physicians are fed up with high drug prices too; one physician offers some good ideas on how to lower drug costs in the USA


Physicians are fed up with high drug prices too; one physician offers some good ideas on how to lower drug costs in the USA.

Drug prices in the USA are the highest in the world. Why do we pay so much more? The answer is that there is a willingness to do so at any cost and insurers are part of the problem and legislation that limits a willingness to negotiate drug prices such as the Medicare program.

This of course needs to change, and drug companies price on a whim, and unfortunately get it by heavily advertising and knowing how to play the game well. Perhaps, we need to change the rules to allow for some sanity in how drugs are paid for and allow the marketplace to force companies to price more appropriately.

A recent op-ed piece from a Sloan Kettering-based physician offers some suggestions and some great observations on how we can change this. Check it out here

Why Drugs Cost So Much

ELI LILLY charges more than $13,000 a month for Cyramza, the newest drug to treat stomach cancer. The latest medicine for lung cancer, Novartis’s Zykadia, costs almost $14,000 a month. Amgen’s Blincyto, for leukemia, will cost $64,000 a month.

Why? Drug manufacturers blame high prices on the complexity of biology, government regulations, and shareholder expectations for high-profit margins. In other words, they say, they are hamstrung. But there’s a simpler explanation.

Companies are taking advantage of a mix of laws that force insurers to include essentially all expensive drugs in their policies, and a philosophy that demands that every new health care product be available to everyone, no matter how little it helps or how much it costs. Anything else and we’re talking death panels.

Examples of companies exploiting these fault lines abound. The New England Journal of Medicine article last fall focused on how companies buy up the rights to old, inexpensive generic drugs, lockout competitors, and raise prices. For instance, albendazole, a drug for certain kinds of parasitic infection, was approved back in 1996. As recently as 2010, its average wholesale cost was $5.92 per day. By 2013, it had risen to $119.58.

Novartis, the company that makes the leukemia drug Gleevec, keeps raising the drug’s price, even though the drug has already delivered billions in profit to the company. In 2001 Novartis charged $4,540, in 2014 dollars, for a month of treatment; now it charges $8,488. Novartis is just keeping up with other companies in its pricing as they charge more and more for their drugs. They know we can’t say no.

Read more here