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Generic Drugs
Old 11-21-2014, 04:54 PM   #1
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Generic Drugs

In the news... Generic drug prices: Why their prices are suddenly surging.

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Beginning this week, however, Washington will host a very different conversation about generic drugs, as independent Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders (chairman of the Subcommittee on Primary Health and Aging) and Maryland Rep. Elijah Cummings (the ranking Democratic member of the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform) open a set of hearings into the rapid increase in generic drug prices in recent years. Drugs previously available at pennies per pill now cost hundreds of dollars per bottle. And not just esoteric, small-market drugs, either: the antibiotic doxycycline, a workhorse drug for common infections from sinusitis to pneumonia, cost $20 per 500-count bottle last October. Last month, the average price for the same supply was $1,849. For a drug initially approved by the FDA in 1967, the price hike seems mystifying.
In doing a few searches, found some generics that have increased 4000% since last year.
Here's one:

Quote:
The average price of albuterol sulfate, a common asthma treatment, shot from an average of $11 per bottle in October 2013 to $434 per bottle in April, an increase of over 4,000 percent, according to the Healthcare Supply Chain Association's calculations.
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Old 11-21-2014, 05:10 PM   #2
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In fairness... the other side:

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Sanders and Cummings sent letters in October to various pharmaceutical companies asking for comment about price increases and invited officials from three companies to testify at Thursday's hearing, but none of them agreed to attend, Sanders said.

But in a statement, the CEO of Generic Pharmaceutical Association called the proposed legislation "misguided."

CEO Ralph Neas said the findings were too narrowly focused on just 10 drugs "in a marketplace of more than 12,000 safe, affordable generic medicines."

"In actuality, generic drugs continue to be a resounding success in lowering health care costs and benefiting patients," wrote Neas, who also noted that generic drugs saved consumers $239 billion in 2013 over brand-name drugs, an increase of 14 percent from 2012.

Neas suggested a more competitive marketplace and a more timely review of drug applications by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration could help lower prices.
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Old 11-21-2014, 05:20 PM   #3
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I wonder if the spike in generic drug prices is just a move by generic drug companies to raise their prices in concert with the patented drugs that are being priced for the well to do or the insurance companies that agree to cover them?

Noting that some newer cancer drugs are in the neighborhood of $100,000 per year (or more) to purchase, a small rise in generic drugs may be viewed upon by the manufacturers to be substantiated.
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Old 11-21-2014, 07:47 PM   #4
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Could this be part of the price increases? Perhaps with a twist - setting high prices on a generic v.s. not selling a generic version at all.

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In a pay-for-delay deal, a brand-name drug company pays off a would-be competitor to delay it from selling a generic version of the drug. Without any competition, the brand-name company can continue demanding high prices for its drug.
Top Twenty Pay-For-Delay Drugs | U.S. PIRG
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Old 11-22-2014, 11:42 AM   #5
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Thought DW had been a victim of one of these astronomical generic price increases when the last 90 day refill of one of her meds shot up from $2 to $60. Turns out that wasn't the case - she just entered the Medicare Part D donut hole.
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Old 11-22-2014, 12:35 PM   #6
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Realistically, for generics, there is NO reason a price should increase more than inflation.
Unless price gouging is acceptable.
Buy your drugs (with your doctor prescription) in another country, at those prices it cheaper to fly to Canada/Europe, go to real drug store, buy them, and fly back. Keep a copy of prescription in case Customs asks for it.
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Old 11-22-2014, 12:39 PM   #7
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Guess I'm lucky. My doctor requires me to take three generic drugs regularly. The total cost of these drugs this month is only 79% of what it was back in 2012.

I didn't keep records in as much detail before 2012, or I'd check earlier dates too.
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Old 11-22-2014, 01:07 PM   #8
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With a few generics, there have been problems with a shortage or production bottleneck of chemicals used to produce the drug. Some of these chemicals are made by just a handful of manufacturers. With an inelastic demand, from pharma companies supplying patients that need the finished drug to stay alive, stay healthy, or stay sane, the price paid for these short supply ingredients rises. Since the pharma companies have contracts requiring a fixed retail sale price in many countries other than the USA, they have to raise the selling price even more where they are not under constraint in order to maintain their profit margin.

The result is that customers in regions that have market demand pricing see a spike in the cost of the drugs that is far higher than one would get if all production were sold with market demand pricing.

Putting all sales under fixed contract pricing would not be a great fix, as any drug that had to be sold at a contracted price for less than the cost of ingredients plus production would simply be dropped. That is, the high priced drugs you currently see in the market would simply become unavailable, until the cost of the ingredients dropped sufficiently to make production profitable.

There are quite a few drugs in shortage currently. Not all are there because of ingredient shortages, though. Sodium Chloride 0.9% Injection Bags, for example, are in shortage, although there isn't a shortage of distilled water or salt. (The shortage is in the 1000 ml sterile bag manufacturing!)

FDA Drug Shortages
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Old 11-22-2014, 01:33 PM   #9
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Many of our drugs now come from overseas sources. IIRC, the USA is no longer capable of making antibiotics on its own. They are either imported from overseas, or the ingredients to make them come from overseas.
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Old 11-22-2014, 01:43 PM   #10
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IIRC, the USA is no longer capable of making antibiotics on its own.
If this is true it is a business decison. We are perfectly cpable of making our own antibiotics.

The Pharama industy is on record as saying they do not like antibiotics or other drugs that cure diseases. They are not even trying to create new ones because they cure people and the industry is more interested in treating people/getting paid forever rather than curing people and losing an permanent income stream
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Old 11-22-2014, 03:28 PM   #11
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I take half a dozen prescription meds daily. I believe that they are all generic. Since the military pharmacy that I get them from does not charge me anything, I can't really comment on the cost of these drugs.
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Old 11-22-2014, 10:08 PM   #12
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I take one generic and my DH also takes one generic medication. We just started getting them for free this year, since our son is working for a pharmaceutical company that makes generic drugs. My other prescription I get through mail order and it is $80 for 3 months supply.
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Old 11-23-2014, 12:38 AM   #13
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Well, it seems that the law of supply and demand is not working otherwise there would not be these shortages.
Since people have to take these, unlike tv sets which people could stop buying, its pretty easy to see some corporate decision to simply up the margin %.

I hear the FDA constantly warn folks about not buying drugs from foreign countries, but sometimes when I had to take drugs I read the labels and peel off labels. I found for example one drug I was taking was manufactured in Ireland.

Its too bad the FDA does not clarify the warning to say don't buy drugs from counterfeit foreign sources, but legitimate ones are ok, as the manufacturers/drugstores do it.

This does get my goat, as you can probably tell, because I have in the past when traveling, got a prescription from my doctor.
Then when I went to Canada, I went to the local pharmacy and bought over the counter some painkillers, it was about 3 cents each, much cheaper than here.
My prescription was to show customs when crossing back if they asked about them, since I didn't want to be accused of drug smuggling.
So I have seen the difference in drug costs and it is huge... worth the trip, especially in the summer
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Old 11-23-2014, 01:33 AM   #14
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The only antibiotic I am not allergic to (urticaria) is docycycline, one on the list as having gone up to $1800. It's not on that shortage list either. My generic copay last June was about $10.

Better not get an infection.

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Old 11-23-2014, 07:17 AM   #15
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A little drift here, I picked up my thyroid meds this week at Wally World. Girl says that will be $22, grasshopper says what happened to the $4 prescription? Girl says oh that is your insurance price.
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Old 11-23-2014, 07:39 AM   #16
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We are in the donut hole with my DW's COPD meds. Not pretty since the inhaler cost is now $500 each....where did the $60 one go? Her Doc is getting a call to see if it's possible to switch to a less costly one.
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Old 11-23-2014, 08:38 AM   #17
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I wonder how much of this is attributable to the pharmacy coverages under the Affordable Care Act - translation "pure greed". Most of the plans I have looked at easily cover Tier 1 drugs which are the generic ones. I wonder if the manufacturers sense less of their profit will come from the Brand Names and more of it from the Generics.

And most of us have to meet those high deductibles before insurance pays one dime outside of preventive care (Bronze plans) So with the escalation of generic prices, the insurers/manufacturers, etc. stand a better chance of us all meeting those $6,000 deductibles/max out of pocket amounts.

Some of the plans have pharmacy coverages. For an extra $2,000 to $3,000 (or more) a year (Silver), you can get generics for $15. I'm seriously consider a Silver plan for that very reason.

Tough choices as it is hard to know what might happen in the next year.
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Old 11-23-2014, 01:45 PM   #18
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Aside from the $s involved with generics, I find that the effectivity between manufacturers can be very different. Surging prices and some generics that are less effective than other generics is getting to be a real PITA.
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Old 11-24-2014, 04:22 PM   #19
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If there is a generic on the world market, you can always have your doc fax the prescription to Canada and get a good price.
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