Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Drug Price Shenanigans

American drug manufacturers continue to operate their scam on the public:
Drugs used to treat multiple sclerosis are of particular concern. A recent study by researchers in Oregon found that first-generation drugs that came on the market in the 1990s ranged in price from $8,000 to $11,000 a year. Prices for those drugs rose even though new drugs entered the market, theoretically providing competition. One drug that first cost $8,700 now costs $62,400 a year.

There are no multiple sclerosis drugs available in the United States with a list price below $50,000 a year, the researchers say, which is two to three times more than the list prices in Canada, Australia or Britain. . . .

A recent report in The Wall Street Journal described how Valeant Pharmaceuticals International, based in Canada, bought the rights to two lifesaving heart drugs on Feb. 10 and raised their prices the same day. The list price for a one-milliliter vial of Isuprel, used to treat abnormal heart rhythms, rose to $1,347 from $215. The price for a two-milliliter vial of Nitropress, for dangerously high blood pressure and acute heart failure, increased to $806 from $258. The Journal cites similar increases for Ofirmev pain injections and Vimovo pain tablets after new companies acquired the rights.
So much for the argument that the high prices are needed to pay for development and testing. The companies are just charging as much as they think they can get away with, and under our current system that is a lot. If Republicans were actually interested in reducing government spending and balancing the budget they would support Obama in repealing the law that forbids Medicare from negotiating prices for drugs. That would save billions without reducing benefits for anyone -- except, of course, the executives and owners of pharmaceutical companies.

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