Thursday, August 28, 2008

The increasing cost of medications in the U.S.

The cost of prescription medications and regulation of the costs is an increasingly discussed issue. Rightly so in my opinion. Why? The prices of all drugs rose 7.4% on average in the last year per Julie Appleby in USA Today which she notes increases the costs for insurers, patients and government programs. These increases are drawing legal and political scrutiny, especially since this is an election year for the U.S. presidency. If you research the price increases, you will see that this rate exceeds the rate of inflation for at least the past 10 years. Insurance companies have already been paying less of the cost of medications by passing on the costs to patients. At some point, these increases will be unsustainable for patients and their families. We are getting close to that point in my opinion.

Here is a list of the top 10 sold drugs in U.S. only (not worldwide) in 2007: #1 Lipitor $8.1 billion, #2 Nexium $5.5 billion, #3 Advair $4.3 billion, #4 Plavix $3.9 billion, #5 Seroquel #3.5 billion, #6 Singulair $3.4 billion, #7 Enbrel $3.4 billion, #8 Prevacid $3.4 billion, #9 Aranesp $3.1 billion, #10 Epogen $3.0 billion. In 2006, #3 Advair $4.0 billion, #10 Singulair $3.0 billion, as stated by the
Pharmacy Times. (I'm an allergist and these are allergy medications. I had no idea prior to researching this article.) All have gone up. Do you or some one you know use any of these medications?

I was informed that revised
Pharmaceutical Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) guidelines for ethical relationships between pharmaceutical company employees and other health care professionals will be taking effect on 1/1/09. One sequelae already pointed out to me by several pharmaceutical reps is that the number of reps will rapidly decrease in the next 3 years. (I wish them all well.) In our office, we see drug reps from the following companies (Abbott, Alcon, AstraZeneca, Boehringer Ingelheim, Dey Labs, Genentech, GlaxoSmithKine, Graceway, Meda (MedPointe), Merck, Novartis, Pfizer, Sanofi-Aventis, Schering-Plough, Sciele, Sepracor, Teva Pharmaceuticals, UCS Pharma) plus reps for generic manufacturers. The average is about 6 visits per day. With decreasing expenses from a lower number of employees and less being spent one promotional activities at doctor's offices (both marketing costs), I hope the pharmaceutical companies will be able to sustain their profits while holding down or freezing any cost increases in their medications. Dare I hope that the price of some medications would fall? Otherwise please explain to me why the prices of medications should continue to exceed the rate of inflation. We shall see what 2009 brings.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

My name is Martha Ryan and i would like to show you my personal experience with Seroquel.

I am 19 years old. Have been on Seroquel for 1 year now. I don't like how this drug makes me what to sleep all the time. However, it has helped control my bi-polar to where I can actually feel like a normal person. I would stay on this medication if it wasn't so expensive. That's why I'm going to change over to lithium soon. Everyone adjusts to medicine differently. It is a good and helpful drug.

I have experienced some of these side effects-
Dry mouth, dizziness, drowsiness, stuffy nose, achy muscles, and muscle contractions

I hope this information will be useful to others,
Martha Ryan

Seroquel Prescription Information

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