Sticker Shock: How Big Pharma Gouges the American Public

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This post first appeared at In These Times.

Danielle Davis, a West Virginia high school student with severe nut allergies, displays an EpiPen and wears a protective mask. (AP Photo/Bob Bird)
Danielle Davis, a West Virginia high school student with severe nut allergies, displays an EpiPen and wears a protective mask. (AP Photo/Bob Bird)

Road trip! Or, two middle-aged women go on a Hunter S. Thompson-esque drug-buying spree across an international border. And score.

Well, maybe the trip is more phlegmatic Fred Thompson than gonzo Hunter S. And maybe we scarf grilled veggies and espresso instead of cocaine and booze (although rum will enter the picture), but we do cop drugs.

The adventure began with a rant: “The last time I bought an EpiPen, it cost $60, and that was too much. Now it’s $380. You’re a reporter. Look into this.” My marching orders came from Mary, a friend whose drugs aren’t covered by insurance. Allergic to bees, she could die of anaphylactic shock if stung. Millions of kids and adults are similarly vulnerable — peanuts, stings, various meds can swell shut their airways. Their lives may depend on a pen-shaped, plastic delivery device for self-injecting a fast-acting dose of epinephrine.

“If you balk at the price, you’ll be muttering, ‘I wish I’d bought it,’ as you breathe your last,” growls Mary. “The extortionate price is a drop in the bucket of what’s wrong with healthcare.”

Actually, it pretty much sums up the whole rotten bucket. First synthesized in 1904, epinephrine, aka adrenaline, is now a dirt cheap generic. If your doctor prescribed it, says Vermont pharmacist Rich Harvie, you could buy a pre-loaded syringe of epinephrine for under $20. But the more foolproof delivery device — the pen in EpiPen — was patented in 1977, meaning that Mylan, the US marketer, and Pfizer, the manufacturer, have a license to gouge. An EpiPen’s price, says Harvie, “is ridiculous, just awful.” And since it requires a prescription in the United States, a doctor’s visit can boost the cost.

EpiPens used to be cheap — just $35.59 wholesale in 1986. Harvie now pays $333 for a two-pack — the only option (which, given an 18-month-from-manufacture shelf life, risks waste and reliance on an expired device).

What makes life-and-death EpiPens a poster child for Big Pharma greed is that the industry’s usual excuses for exorbitant pricing don’t apply. R&D costs? The delivery system was developed on the taxpayers’ dime by military/NASA engineer Sheldon Kaplan (who never got a penny in royalties) to inject atropine to counter battlefield nerve gas. Minor modifications suited it to epinephrine. Educational/marketing costs? Every doctor already knows about EpiPens. A limited customer base? With allergies on the rise and millions of EpiPens sold globally, economy of scale is built in, and a repeat market is guaranteed by quick expiration and dire need. EpiPen earned Mylan a tidy $640 million in 2012, The New York Times reported.

It is not only brand-name and patented drugs that escalate US healthcare costs. A variety of US generics — whether from coincidence or collusion — cost consumers similarly high prices. “I’ve seen all the generic [drug] companies raise prices the same 500 percent overnight,” says Harvie.

I tried repeatedly to talk to Pfizer and Mylan to ask why their device costs $360 to $435 retail, but no one would actually speak to me, and all I could extract were emails regurgitating PR gruel.

So back to our excellent adventure. We entered Canada from Vermont via a tiny border crossing and headed to Sutton, Quebec. Hunter S. would have sneered at our bistro lunch and stroll past très charmant tourist shops to Pharmacie Mario Milot & Mathieu Bélisle. “I’d like to buy an EpiPen,” I told the pharmacist. “Have you a prescription, madam?” M. Milot asked. “But I was told it was over-the-counter.” “Yes, but without [an insurance-backed] prescription, it will be so extremely expensive: US $94.”

To celebrate my pyrrhic victory, I bought a bottle of US-embargoed Cuban rum, stuck it under the drugs and smoked duck, and passed through US customs. I thought of the nice Canadian pharmacist’s sadness at my having to fork out $94 — until I told him how much more EpiPens cost only 10 miles south. “But why?” he asked. Good question, monsieur.

I’ll go out on a limb and say greed, or, as a pharma-shill stoned enough on samples to be honest would admit: “Whatever the market will bear,” or “Because we can, suckers.” And if people are forced to rely on expired EpiPens, or do without? Well, that’s the way the US healthcare system — and the peanut-allergic kid — crumbles.

Terry J. Allen
Terry J. Allen, an In These Times senior editor, has written the magazine’s monthly investigative health and science column since 2006.
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  • Chris Allen

    Medicine in the U.S. isn’t about health, it’s about *profit*—huge huge profits. This is why we have the most expensive healthcare system in the world… but the actual quality of our care is the worst of industrialized nations, and even some third-world countries have better.

  • David L. Allison

    It is time for single payer health care. Medicare for all. drop the deductible. Negotiate with drug companies for cost of medication. NOW

  • Mark Lilback

    Take a look at Sovaldi, a treatment for Hepatitis C. It cost $1000 a pill, and other meds are taken along side it.

  • Justice

    Enjoy a vacation and get your medical/dental needs taken care of…in Colombia. Goto Colombia South America. They won’t gouge you there, except in your narco terror filled sheep of a mind.

  • Anonymous

    The execs of these company’s are superfluous scum,they are not needed,they really should be thrown in jail for life as they are responsible for the deaths of literally millions because of their price gouging,unspeakable trash…..

  • Anonymous

    Allow better made drugs from Europe and Canada to freely compete in USA.

  • Anonymous

    Being a physician, I can buy bottles of epinephrine directly. I think they are about five bucks.

  • Diana Reichardt

    This is what is wrong with our high medical costs!!!! It is nothing but greed! I do the same, I get my prescriptions from Canada and pay about a third of what I would pay here. I live on social security and have to make my money count, Our country is full of rich, selfish gutless rich jerks. Greed has ruined this country.

  • Jeff Rock

    Good article Terry. I think you are spot on.

  • Anonymous

    There are no “better made” drugs in Europe and Canada. All the manufacturers around the world have moved to China. There are almost no drug manufacturers left in North America.

  • Anonymous

    I agree with you… but you weakened your moral high ground considerably by admitting you smuggled Cuban rum. By the way, few pharma companies have a well-funded R&D dept any more. Most rely on government funded research like that done at NIH. Breast cancer drugs, AIDS drugs, penicillin, none funded by business. Taxpayers pay twice: for the research, then for the drug. Get the great book by Marcia Angell, no quack, from NEMJ

  • Anonymous

    Moral Highground?

  • obadiahorthodox


  • Mary

    A prescription that cost me and my insurance company a total of $211.77 in August, 2012, cost $634.15 in June, 2014. This has sped me to the dreaded “coverage gap/doughnut hole” of Medicare Part D. So, for the rest of this year, I’m on my own for the cost of my prescriptions.

  • Michele Hogan

    It’s not that the drugs are made there. It’s that these countries have a SINGLE PAYER health insurance system. If one insurer – whether governmental or private – insures every single person in a province or a country, they – and not the greedy corporations – are basically in control of the price they are willing to pay for medical services or pharmaceuticals. But Americans in their infinite wisdom decided to brand such systems socialist (oh no!) and refuse to allow it – hence, $460 for a life-saving device that you have to buy every 18 months.

  • NotARedneck

    Cuban rum IS the moral high ground. “American” rum is made in Puerto Rico because the makers can move their income there where, there is no tax!

    Coca Cola also uses this location to sell their formula around the world – at a inflated price with no tax. Other countries have called BS on this transfer pricing scam.

  • Harriet Russell

    Yes, but they’ve been chipping away at Medicare for so long, it would still be too expensive for a lot of us, and it doesn’t cover dental, or eye care, or other specialties. Plus the prescription doughnut hole that Mary, above, has been thrust into can still be ruinous. It’s Medicaid for all that we need, not Medicare.

  • Anonymous

    Why are you telling at everyone?

  • Harriet Russell

    I’m sorry, what is “corporate inversion”? I’m sure it’s yet another trick that will raise my blood pressure…a bad bad thing to do in case they raise the cost of my meds…still, I want to hear the details…it does ring a bell.

  • Anonymous

    I see your point, but the article is trying to get readers to imagine a person with dire financial and health consequences, a person who needs help, and the author’s willingness to smuggle illegal goods, perhaps luxury goods, doesn’t help that cause.
    Now, can I have a shot of that fantastic rum?

  • mrtwilight23

    If you make money off of sick people, you’re a vulture.

  • Cathy Curtis

    The article was written by a reporter on a quest to answer a friend’s question; why does this cost do much here?
    If the reporter chose to buy some rum will up there, more power to her. The point of the story is very clearly made; we are being screwed by the corporations, again.

  • C.L. Stewart

    Absolutely, mrtwilight23! And dying people.

  • Anonymous

    They’re £8 in the UK (under $14) – with a prescription. Or about £50 ($84) without.

  • Anonymous

    Including (ironically) Cuba, for the average Joe.

  • Anonymous

    It’s acquiring a company in a foreign tax-friendly country, then revising your corporate structure to make that company’s location your HQ, to avoid paying US Federal taxes.

  • Anonymous

    You are trying to convince me but I am already convinced that we are being screwed. I even read a much better explanation of how that is happening in the Angell book I recommended. But the reporter’s quest was in First Person about how tough it was to buy medicine on a budget – then she cops to buying luxury rum. She undercuts her own case. Not with me, but with other potential supporters who read the article.

  • Michele Hogan

    The drugs in Mexico are most likely the same drugs, just cheaper, not “a cheaper version”. My son, who lives in LA and must take daily medicine for asthma (and also carries an EpiPen), routinely fills his prescriptions there. Same brand, same medicine, one-third the price or less. Again, it’s because in a single-payer system, with all individuals insured by the same governmental or private agency, that agency rather than Big Pharma dictates the price of the medicine. I think one reason prices have gone up so high in the US is that the rest of the developed world has single-payer systems, so it is only in the US that Big Pharma can charge outrageous prices to drive up its profits. If you live close to the border, it’s worth a trip to check it out.

  • Michele Hogan

    I agree with you, and most likely the duck also had to be smuggled – as I remember, meat is not supposed to cross borders, either. But hey, if you’re smuggling in medicine (and I have no problem with that at all), might as well have a great lunch and some liquid courage to go with it!

  • Harriet Russell

    Oh, yes…I didn’t remember what it was called…Thanks!

  • Tim Farrell

    i can’t get past the haughty tone of this article. i’m surprised that the picture accompanying the article isn’t a picture of their bistro lunch. The only thing that Terry wants to convey is that while basic healthcare is a problem for most of the people in the world, it’s not a problem for her. “stuck it under the drugs and smoked duck” give me a break.

  • Andrea Gwyn

    Having medicare due to being disabled you will get lousy medical care because doctors do not want to deal with medicare patients, (at least in my area) also the limitations on coverage, no dental, no vision and a lot of medications are not covered, good luck when you get onto medicare.

  • JonThomas

    That’s what you got from this article?

  • Anonymous

    It’s called HUMOR, ding-a-ling. Apparently you are suffering from a humor deficit. Humor is a great way to get serious messages out to a larger audience.

  • Anonymous

    It was a JOKE, son, doncha get it?
    She was pretending to be a wild and crazy drug fanatic, like Hunter S. Thompson, to make the article eye-catching, funny, and grab the attention of a wider audience (an audience which might never get around to reading a book by Angell.) You gotta relax, son.

  • Anonymous

    DOH! No, I missed that. Maybe because Hunter Thompson’s Rum Diary takes place in Puerto Rico. No smuggling required.

  • Anonymous

    Mary, very sorry to hear that … I ended up in the same boat in 2012, but really planned on what drugs I HAD to have in 2013 versus drugs that would have increased my quality of life. Quality of life had to go down. I don’t know if this pertains to you in any way, but I sincerely hope you find a much better plan for 2015, I too am going to be looking … AGAIN.

  • Anonymous

    Hi Harriet, I would say we all need Medicare AND Medicaid, based on something like INDIVIDUAL income levels. Best wishes.

  • Anonymous

    Totally sensible and TOTALLY doable, but not with this Congress.

  • Anonymous

    Hi Mark, the whole thing is sick. Big Pharma is killing people, and by and large, our government is complicit because there are NOT enough 3rd party foundations, grants, churches, and other sources to help out those who are in dire need. Best wishes to you and yours. AND, GREAT POST.

  • Anonymous

    Wish we had naturopathic doctors across the country, such as in South Carolina! Thanks for sharing your experience Amanda Joy.

  • vucja

    show some outrage here?

  • vucja

    you couldn’t tell that from the way their reps go into med offices and leave an array of samples. The fact that they may not have a well=funded R&D dept. any more probably means they just don’t want to put the money there. Is this then a form of corporate welfare??
    How about the lost moral high ground for big pharmacy, since they are now considered a “person” by our disgusting SCOTUS.
    One of Gandhi’s sins: commerce without morality.

  • vucja

    Even people who are strapped for money need something special sometime if they can get it. She saved more than $200.; let her get a luxury.

  • vucja

    They have branded it socialism because that’s the crap they’ve been fed by right-wing propaganda AND media, AND they don’t look any further than that.

  • vucja

    I know someone who was refused by the insurance co. for Sovaldil ahd was thinking about crowd funding to save his life before they finally approved it. Turns out the last lab tests were way out of date – and no one noticed it???

  • vucja

    AND not with too many Americans worried about “socialism”.

  • Anonymous

    Don’t insult vultures. The pharma folks gouging America on this are what comes out of the vultures back end.

  • NJHope

    The pharmaceuticals are just as evil as the oil, insurance, and wall street thugs. They may as well be out on the street corner picking our pockets right in front of the police, and with nothing but a smile on their faces.

    Americans are really losing out, allowing themselves to be sidelined like this by the healthcare industry overall. They got into the White House and took care of the healthcare Bill sitting right next to Obama, as they sliced and diced the words to meet their own needs; got exactly what they wanted out of it, then complained/bitched about it endlessly. They are still pretending they hate it, all the while they have made out like bandits. But their own base has no idea how they really feel. The secret is safe.

  • HCMehdi

    Now that the US citizen is forced by law to buy private health insurance and the government can tell private insurance companies what to cover.. and insurance companies can simply raise their prices to meet those new minimum standards… and insurance and pharma companies continue to be the highest paying government lobbyist, second only to the military and can ask for their minimum standards to include, x,y & z at any time…….. well… you do the math. It’s only a downward spiral from here.

  • Anonymous

    Not so much the “government’s lack of compassion” as the pharma industry buying our representatives.

    The ‘ruling cla$$” throws out inane issues for people to argue endless over as if that will improve their lot. All along, it distracts folks from what the real problems are and from seeing how we are being truly screwed. The classic “divide & conquer” scenario being played over and over.

    But meanwhile, back at the mansion, Daddy just got sonny-boy a new Porsche for his 18th birthday. The money just keeps rolling in…

  • Anonymous

    That’s great doc…! How much do you charge your patients?

  • Anonymous

    I feel your pain. I’m a Lyme patient. Pretty much everything is out of pocket. I was put on Mepron a few months back (to fight a Malaria-like illness, which has returned), a drug that I was on a few years back, when my Rx insurance covered it. Not only will my insurance not cover it, in several years it’s gone from $1,000/month, to $1,600 per month. They call it “liquid gold” as it’s yellow and über expensive.

  • Anonymous

    You can get generic thyroid meds at Wal-Mart for $4/month or $10 for 3 months. The only problem I’ve seen with generics is the bioavailability isn’t the same.

  • Anonymous

    I don’t because I’m an OB/GYN, I’m a rent-a-doc and I don’t sell stuff to patients. However, WalMart, Walgreens and Target all have generic meds.

    The advantage of an Epi-Pen is you don’t have to carry around a syringe and draw it up from a bottle. However, I still think what they charge for those pens is larceny.

  • Craig Dickinson

    Welcome to big pharmacy, lobbiests at work ! The outrage of this medication costing more in a pen, ( the way it needs to be administered) is just another bite into the American Economy whirlpool of what can we get away with !
    Some one needs to step up, buy an ocean of epinephrine, and make some reasonable cost injectors to wipe out this Monopoly of GREED ! Show me the Money…

  • pointofgrille

    Solution: Provide a National Identity Card (might keep the right happy to call it it that), but make it a single payer “Medicare For All Card” issued along with every birth certificate.

  • Richard Meyer

    This is a biased article. First, let’s remember that pharmaceutical products only represent ten cents of every healthcare dollar spent. Obesity is a big factor driving soaring rates of chronic disease in the United States. According to researchers, chronic illnesses such as diabetes and heart disease account for some $100 to $150 billion in health-care spending in the United States each year. In addition a press release from the Department of Health and Human Services states that seniors have saved roughly $6 billion on prescription drugs following the closure of the infamous donut hole. If more and more patients would take personal responsibility fot their health our healthcare costs would decline rapidly.

  • AlunZMun

    ah, so that is why the epi-pen went from $60 to $380.

  • Robin Barcellos

    Yes, by all means, blame the fat and the old people. LOL

  • Sharon Lawson

    How does anything you say here affect the price of Epi- pens, an allergy med?

  • Anonymous

    You should thank the non-transparent free trade agreements and their bought politicians.

    APEC has been “criticized” for promoting free trade agreements that would “trammel” national and local laws, which regulate and ensure labor rights, environmental
    protection and safe and affordable access to medicine.

  • CommonSense

    Costco has a much better price on epipens:

    Name Mfr. 2 each 4 each 6 each
    EPIPEN JR 2-PAK 0.15 MG INJCTR DEY $407.88 $795.53 $1,181.05

    Name Mfr. 2 each 4 each 6 each
    EPIPEN 2-PAK 0.3 MG AUTO-INJCT DEY $407.88 $795.53 $1,181.05

    Still ridiculously expensive but $204 each pen is much less than the lowest price of $333.

  • Anonymous

    Sorry, not buying it. There’s no excuse for a 400% markup.

  • Anonymous

    Sorry… Not entirely accurate. This issue of exorbitant gouging was a huge problem long before the the conception of ACA, and is actually part and parcel of what the ACA was trying to address. The ACA also sets limits on what can be charged for various services/treatments. So while it isn’t perfect, it is at least a big step in the right direction. You are correct about the lobbyists and until “single payer” becomes the method of implementation, there will be ever shiftier and craftier ways of using the power of our elected officials as glorified middle men in seeing that the American taxpayers as the source for unwarranted profits for private companies.

  • Anonymous

    I find it interesting that American workers faced with losing their jobs, are told “Its a Global Economy. Deal with it.” But American Pharma and Agri-Business insist their profits remain protected from Global competition. Its always a “Global Economy” if it benefits business, but rarely, if ever does it benefit average Americans.

  • Linda Justice

    when I worked on Wall Street I transcribed stock analysts discussing where to put one’s money, for a trade journal. They said: this is how the big pharmas decide how much to charge. They say: Hmm, how much would a person pay not to have a migraine? $60? I think so.” Price charged. And they also said, when giving advice on how to invest: “There is no money in healing, only maintaining. Only invest pharmaceuticals that maintain, not that heal.” And the other sad thing I transcribed was: “The weapons stocks were going along great. But then what happened? Peace broke out!!” This was in regards to the Middle East, this was around the ’90s. Yes, go vegan as much as possible. And alternative as much as possible, and homeopathic.

  • Crystal Crosby

    It gets a little more sordid when you realize a lot of those HEP C cases are contracted within medical facilities.

  • littleblacksnake

    Which pharmaceutical company do you work for?

  • Linda Justice

    When I worked on Wall Street I transcribed stock analysts discussions on where to put one’s money, for a trade journal. They said: “This is how the big pharmas decide how much to charge. They say: “Hmm, how much would a person pay not to have a migraine? $60? I think so.” Price charged; And they also said, when giving advice on how to invest: “There is no money in healing, only maintaining. Only invest in pharmaceuticals that maintain, not heal.” And the other sad thing I transcribed was: “The weapons stocks were going along great. But then what happened? Peace broke out!!” This was in regards to the Middle East, this was around the ’90s. Yes, go vegan as much as possible. And alternative as much as possible, and homeopathic. Another sad thing I transcribed was during Tianaman Square crisis in China, the reason we did not go in was because investors had just completed a nuclear power plant in Hong Kong, and they had to convince the Chinese to keep their factories open 24 hours a day in order to pay for the nuclear facility. This was right before the Chinese had their boom. Another thing was: if you see a toll bridge or a transit system being built, always invest, because the price charged is so the investors get their investment first. This was in regards to the train going from France to England. In the talk the money market analysis said the investors already had their money back and it hadn’t even been opened then. We all need to wake up.

  • Karl Idsvoog

    Why the surprise at the price? The United States, unlike other industrialized nations, does not have a healthcare system. The United States has a healthcare corporate profit system. The concern is not for patients, it’s for corporate profit. That’s why we have a Congress that looks out for corporations, not citizens.

  • Anonymous

    Well, SOMEONE is a shill for big pharm here. I find Mr. Meyer’s comments to be irrelevant to the discussion around the exorbitant cost of certain drugs. Am I being irresponsible about my health care if I’m allergic to bees?
    Am I being irresponsible about my health care if exposure to insecticides, pesticides, herbicides, and god-only-knows-what-else has given me asthma? Because it also costs $240-$310 per month for asthma medications like Dulera, Symbicort, and Advair, all the patents for which have expired and insurance companies don’t pay for them. We really don’t care if pharm only represents 10 cents of every dollar spent across millions of people (a questionable statistic). For me, it represents 88% or more of my annual health care costs if I follow the doctor’s advice on dosage. So I cut it in half until we have other health problems and my HSA is exhausted and then I have to stop preventing my asthma altogether because I just can’t bear the cost. I suppose if I end up in the emergency room the insurance company will end up paying for it now anyway since part of exhausting my HSA was also paying a $3200 deductible. One emergency room visit will likely cost at least as much as 4 months of medication because they’re penny wise and pound foolish.
    Big pharm is perhaps the most evil, amoral animal in the health care industry. They use US taxpayer dollars to subsidize and pay for their research and development and then grossly overcharge us again so their upper management as a group can take home hundreds of millions of dollars they don’t deserve and aren’t worth. The worst part is the more dire the circumstances of the patient, the more pharm gouges them. “Ohhhhh! Are you about to die? Welllhellhellhellhell….I guess you really need this (epi-pen, cancer drug), eh? You don’t really need to BREATHE, do you? What’s it worth to you to keep on living?” Nobody begrudges a business a reasonable profit but Pharm OVER-profits from the fear and misery of others and gouges them to do so. They make my stomach churn in disgust. I fear congress is just as readily in their pockets as they are in Wall Street’s so we won’t likely see any reform soon and if they try I can already hear the moaning and wailing and gnashing of $50,000 dental work along with lotsa-big-words-and-meaningless-statistics rationalization for the shameless, amoral usury in which pharm engages. Bottom line….they’re bad people.

  • Anonymous

    United States of America, INC.

  • Anonymous

    I am an allergist and I have seen this. I had a patient who has idiopathic angioedema and chronic urticaria (hives.) Yes, this exists and is more common than many know. She experiences sudden swelling of her face throat arms and legs without having eaten anything, due to any medications or being stung. This happens to her several times a month and she did not buy an epipen despite my exhortations. Her niece eventually took matters into her own hands and put out the over $300 it cost. This happens with inhalers as well. We have NO generic inhalers. Btw generics are becoming less expensive as well due to lack of competition. It’s sad.

  • Benny Worth

    Could have just left the last two sentences off. How, exactly, are improper sources of protein, acupuncture, and tinctured water supposed to affect the issues we have with big pharma?

  • LEK56

    B-b-b-b-b-b-but there’s no PROFIT in that!

  • badphairy

    Most doctors won’t even take Medicaid patients because reimbursement is too low. Fix that first.

  • badphairy

    W got a baseball team!

  • Richard Meyer

    I do not work for a pharma company but I do work within the industry. What I am saying is that if the obesity rate in the US dropped just 10% we could save billions in healthcare and lost productivity costs. It now costs $1 billion to develop and bring new drugs to market and only 1 in 10 new drugs ever make it to market. Drug companies are first a business and have a responsibility to shareholders. If you don’t believe that then let the govt take them over. Then their are hospitals which pay their CEOs millions of dollars while charging patients an average of 800% markup on medications.

    If we all took more personal responsibility for our health our healthcare costs would drop dramatically but instead let’s blame high drug prices which represent only 10 cents of ever healthcare dollar spent.

  • Stacy Awesome

    Obesity has no relation to peanut or bee allergies. So please try again.

  • Richard Meyer

    No it doesn’t but the development of drugs is still expensive

  • Grrry

    Vegan diets are complete sources of protein and have been found by multiple international councils to be nutritionally adequate and beneficial at all stages of life. Unlike those who eat standard meat based diets, vegans live longer and healthier lives. Also, for the good of the planet, more people need to become vegan. Industrial production of meat is the number one contributor of global climate change (not to mention it is horribly inhumane: over 50 billion animals are slaughtered per year for food. And it is a horrible pollutant of ground water, builds antibiotic resistance, I could go on and on).

  • KMC528

    I used to be able to get a non-prescription asthma inhaler for $15, which is really all I need because exercise-induced asthma only kicks in when you walk too fast, so a couple puffs two or three times a year when I have to run for a train suffices. A couple of years ago, Primatene discontinued the inhaler, which worked immediately, and told me my only option was pills, which have to disintegrate in the stomach and get into your system before they work, i.e., pointless for my situation.

    When the expired inhaler in my purse is empty, I’ll have no choice but to get a prescription one for 20 or 30 times the price. Fortunately, I have insurance which will cover most of the cost, but WHY can’t I continue to get the non-prescription version that worked just as well for my situation?

  • Wildfawn

    Greed greed greed. A reasonable profit isn’t enough; because the medical industry, including pharmacy and all other businesses, can charge outrageous prices they do. The medical industry has managed to avoid being regulated and the result is this.

  • Anna

    None of your sub points support your argument. They actually seem to support a national health service or at least more regulation of the industry business practices. In fact, based on your description of industry practices I would expect these companies to further inflate their prices if we reduced their demand by leading healthier lives. (and as someone else pointed out, allergies have nothing to do with obesity.)

  • Richard Meyer

    The American Diabetes Association (Association) released new research on March 6, 2013 estimating the total costs of diagnosed diabetes have risen to $245 billion in 2012 from $174 billion in 2007, when the cost was last examined. This figure represents a 41 percent increase over a five year period.

    Expensive new drugs often get fingered as the culprit to rising US health-care costs. The truth is closer to the reverse. New, better medications are actually the best and swiftest way for this country to cut down on our health-care expenses. By more effectively combating disease and improving patients’ lives, drugs reduce long-term medical costs and bolster the overall economy.

    It’s remarkable that some large insurers have the chutzpah to complain that curing 3 million Americans of hepatitis C will bankrupt health-care systems. Data recently published by the PwC Health Research Institute suggests the reverse. The study shows that the use of Sovaldi will actually drive down overall spending within a decade. According to the authors, “The challenge may lie in targeting the patient most in need of the more expensive course of therapy.”

    In short, drugs aren’t the cause of rising health-care costs — they’re the solution. Demonizing new treatments distracts from the real problem in the US biopharmaceutical industry: top-down cost-centric policies that focus on the near-term, short-changing long-term patient outcomes, and so endanger “sustainable innovation” by denying fair reimbursement for high-risk investment in R&D. (Research and development costs big even if a drug never makes it to market — and most don’t.)

  • Grrry

    I think Stacy’s point was that your comment is off topic. Of course we should all take personal responsibility for our health. This country has horrific ideas of what constitutes our daily food (pizza is a vegetable). But in reality, this article is about rampant greed and inexcusably high prices for an allergy treatment.

  • Richard Meyer

    But what you fail to trap is that the cost and approval of this treatment cost hundreds of millions of dollars and there are a ton of other drugs that cost billions which were not approved or failed in trials. By the way the costs listed are NOT what insurance companies pay they are list prices and very few pay them.

  • Grrry

    Did you read the article? We’re talking about epinephrine, which was developed 110 years ago. And a delivery mechanism that was developed by the military and funded by the taxpayers.

  • Anonymous

    Definitely – let the government take over because the government is not for profit it is neutral and people can have medical coverage like in really civilized, advanced coutries.

  • Andrew

    Not that I have totally gone vegan but when I was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes I was put on three drugs, two not covered by my insurance. They did help regulate my blood sugar, but also had unpleasant side effects. I then switch to an almost completely plant-based lifestyle. Within six months I was off all meds(also have an exercise program), my AC1 was 5.2; much better than even my pre-diabetes levels. I did have side effects with this also. I lost 40 pounds, all my cholesterol levels were in balance, my blood pressure went from 145/90 to 115/77, my energy level went way, way up, I went from being quite depressed and glum to excited and locking forward to my later years, etc. So I am no longer paying big pharma for 3 drugs, and I am sure eventually a few more for high blood pressure and cholesterol. Sounds like a win-win situation. And finally, when I absolutely crave bbq or serrano ham(picture Homer Simpson drooling over donuts) I have it. It tastes some much better when it is a special treat and not a lifestyle. Not preaching, but sure worked for me.

  • gin9rrsnap

    You forget the rest of the circle – the National Sugar Institute and
    other Manufacturers of food items make sure that America is obese and
    please don’t whine personal responsibility when healthier food also cost
    more than the junk Walmart sells to milllions upon millions of people
    who cannot afford to shop anywhere else (including clothing etc. made in
    other countries to the detriment of our manufacturing base) – like I
    said, it’s a vicious circle and it is all DELIBERATE.

  • Andrew

    Sorry for my lack of proofreading.

  • Anonymous

    EpiPen Jr. and regular are equal in price here in Sweden and available on prescription at around US$ 60 for one or ±US$105 for a two pack of either. I’m actually surprised it is that high when I looked into it after reading this article. Most meds are waaaaay! less expensive here since it is a single payer system and the state therefore can and does negotiate a fairer price. The only reason for such outrageous pricing in the medical industry in the US is, as Wildfawn wrote, because they can. That’s how it is designed and codified into law to work. And that, in this day and age, is simply a sin.

  • Claude Martin-Mondiere

    Why people with allergy to hymenoptera ( wasp,bees, etc) are not treated in the US. When in nephrology I was in charge of an allergy consultation to diagnose kidney diseases relevant to allergy. I was practicing desensitization from hymenoptera and it was working very well. It is non a very common disease but a death risk one , worth to be treated. Treatment in such case in France are 100% paid by the healthcare system. It avoid kidney transplant and other expensive and handicapping treatments.

  • Rory Pond

    My husband has ADHD and takes generic Adderall. Since he is a 6’4″ adult and not a 12 year old adolescent, he requires a higher dosage than the PDR call for. Therefore his insurance has decided not to cover the additional amount. This means that we have to pay full price. What was a $10 generic is now anywhere between $125-$185 for a one month supply. If he wants to stay employed, he needs to take this. Already living hand to mouth, paycheck to paycheck, this is sending us further down the drain. I hope the pharmaceutical companies are enjoying their profits at our expense.

  • Anonymous

    It’s less refined and has slightly more cardiovascular effects (fast heart rate.) More people are using the prescription ones. Perhaps there is not as much demand? It is a shame that once the Montreal Protocol was in effect and inhalers had to take CFCs out they all regained their patents and generic albuterol was no longer available. This would be cheaper than the brands that they have now. I agree, though, you need a fast acting inhaler.. not a tablet.

  • Anonymous

    I will feel sorry for the poor drug companies that have to spend so much in development when the CEOs are not making millions, when they don’t real in huge profits for their shareholders and when they don’t hire reps to push their products.

  • Anonymous

    Most people with stinging insect or hymenoptera induced anaphylaxis do not develop serum sickness or kidney disease. However, we do desensitize people allergy injections for anaphylaxis to stings. It is a five year process. Only specialists do this, however and many people do not get this treatment. I have also had many patients who refuse the shots because it is an inconvenient and lengthy process. Even after desensitization, I do recommend an epipen be kept on hand.

  • Steve T

    Richard has guts commenting on here so I appreciate that.

    IMO, integrity-wise, there are different types of pharm companies. Some have the goals to save lives or increase the quality of lives. Others don’t care and will pull any scumbag move possible to get clients (aka patients) and maintain those clients. And at least from my perspective, that model is extremely easy considering that most clients don’t even pay for their own meds, so the pharm companies can charge whatever they want.

    Take gabapentin/Neurontin for example. It is an anti-seizure med which Pfizer marketed for every unapproved purpose imaginable. I was told that it was “harmless” and took it to relax before bed. Now I have been weaning off it for more than 8 months and I am still experiencing withdrawals. Many people give up and concede to take it for the rest of their lives. That is a client who will automatically buy tens of thousands of pills. Who pays for it? Insurance.

    Pfizer gets sued for about half a billion dollars, the patent runs out on Neurontin, now Pfizer makes a virtually identical drug called Lyrica and starts the entire process over again. So when Richard talks about the $1 billion cost of developing a med, is part of that expense being SUED for KILLING PEOPLE? I’m willing to bet it is.

    And now let’s talk about a natural supplement like kava, which polynesians have used since before Jesus was born and no signs of hepatoxicity has ever been observed. Suddenly kava becomes popular around 2000, and it is promptly banned in Germany for groundless reasons regarding liver disease. Recently the ban was lifted with strong criticism regarding bribery and government corruption associated with pharm companies (namely benzo ones). The natural supplement that I currently take before bed pharm companies have worked, and WILL work, tooth and nail to ban. Think about how completely idiotic that is, especially since NO ONE should be taking benzos unless they are experiencing a panic attack at that MOMENT. People are encouraged to take them for various reasons because of the complete dependency and addiction.

    I know that there are good pharm companies but there are many scum-of-the-earth ones as well. They are worse than drug dealers, literally. Some of these meds I have taken (which aren’t many), I would have been better off buying marijuana from a random person on the street. I’d rather give the cartels money, experience no dependency, and have better service. That is what I think about these scumbag corporations.

  • Steve T

    “Development of torcetrapib, a drug that increases production of HDL, or “good cholesterol”, which reduces LDL thought to be correlated to heart disease, was cancelled in December 2006. During a Phase III clinical trial involving 15,000 patients, more deaths occurred in the group that took the medicine than expected, and a sixty percent increase in mortality was seen among patients taking the combination of torcetrapib and Lipitor versus Lipitor alone. Lipitor alone was not implicated in the results, but Pfizer lost nearly $1 billion developing the failed drug and the market value of the company plummeted in the aftermath.”

    There is that $1 billion wasted budget of a “drug that doesn’t make it” which Richard was referring to. It’s 60% increase in mortality. It’s not a failed kickstarter project or obsolete space exploration technology, where you say “it’s a shame it didn’t work.” It murdered people.

  • JonThomas

    As far as my own life and practices, I am more ‘natural’ than the average person. I am vegetarian (used to be vegan until I moved to a more rural area where good vegan products are more difficult to find, and more expensive when found.)

    If it were up to me, I’d go almost Luddite.

    However, that said; the field of medicine and healthcare is the one area where modern technology can really benefit humanity. Especially in this area do we have to think of the needs of others.

    I do think you make some good points. Where I think we do need to balance out the views of the extremes in this discussion is in making the distinction between what is really a new drug, and established medicines which are re-packaged to extend the copyright and trademarks. Long-used medicines are mixed with a different ratios of additives or other drug combinations. Older, useful, cheaper delivery systems are phased out for the sake of profit.

    My mother was recently prescribed an insulin pen. She has to buy needle and insulin cartridges. Insulin is ancient by comparison to some of the newer medicines (no longer effective for my mom’s situation) for diabetes.

    I asked her doctor, the older delivery systems for insulin (just a vile and needle) are WAY cheaper than the pen. The only difference is convenience. The pen will be easier when she goes out to eat, or visiting. Also, the doctor said the needles of both delivery systems can be cleaned (very important) and used more than once. But of course the manufactures (for understandable liability reasons) cannot recommend this practice, so unless you ask, and learn how to properly use the equipment (which she wasn’t at all, just got a prescription and a description, although that probably falls on the doctor,) people would be ‘funneled’ into practices motivated by profit instead of care.

    I too was told I border on diabetes, but having been a vegetarian for going on 30 years, and taking being aware of what I eat, my diet has thus far protected me from the disease.

    So again, while I think you make some good points, especially with individuals being responsible for their own lifestyle choices (all the diabetic pills and insulin can’t make up for eating properly,) the people here are also making some good points, finding the balance is important.

    The food industry in this country is motivated by profit, not nutrition. Even nutrition research is disturbingly motivated by profit.

    Likewise, healthcare in this country, instead of health and the concern for the situations encountered by real people, is also motivated by profit. It’s easy to say that people are at fault for not taking care of themselves, but these industries have even involved themselves in the educational communities to affect lifestyle, and spending decisions.

    The food industry is in the school system. The pharmaceutical industry is in the university system. Doctors know more about pills than nutrition.

    It’s a horrendous method for solving the healthcare needs of a population!!

  • knotmott

    Maybe health care costs would drop a little (maybe one years worth of increases), but other corporations (food and ag giants) would lament the loss in business. Don’t kid yourself either – the medical complex enjoys the extra profits from obesity. That’s the big diff between a system geared toward health and one toward profits. Worse results=more profit in many cases.

  • Richard Meyer

    That comment is so myopic that it’s not based on reality. Any company markets products to fill needs. Do you think Lipitor would have been a top selling drug if more people would have eaten healthier? People want a quick fix and that means a pill to compensate for unhealthy eating.

  • knotmott

    Richard, as you know many of the big Pharam companies are in Europe. So the “development is expensive” thing doesn’t pan out… terms of the 3 to 4X as much that Americans pay. The ONLY difference in these cases is that America is a greed-based system while others certainly allow innovation and reward, but PEOPLE are put before profits. It’s a pretty simple equation. We pay over 2X the price for health care as some other civilized countries and have worse results. Blaming it on lack of personal responsibility is yet another straw man. Study your biology and neuroscience. We are programmed to gulp up fat and sugars…it’s instinct. But in the USA corporations are allowed to spend unlimited money on marketing to buttress that instinct….which dwarfs what is spend on education!
    You have to think it further thought. Basically, it’s the “free market” which allows predatory behavior by both health care and food and other corporations. I’m all for regulated capitalism, but we are also the only civilized country which allows the level of Direct to Consumer advertising of dangerous Pharma drugs. Why? Simple! Because it creates more demand.

  • knotmott

    The Bush Medicare Part D law states “By the design of the program, the federal government is not permitted to negotiate prices of drugs with the drug companies, as federal agencies do in other programs”
    No negotiation…….what a deal.

  • knotmott

    “By the design of the program, the federal government is not permitted to negotiate prices of drugs with the drug companies, as federal agencies do in other programs”
    Whether or not “seniors have saved money” means little if our debt and deficit and tax rates have climbed to pay the higher prices. It’s just a shell game in this case – moving costs from one group to another. Sure, we all should take personal responsibility but that’s hard when the ag and pharma companies can spend vastly more on marketing than the gubment can spend on consumer education.

  • knotmott

    One of my good laughs is often knowing that Pharma bigwigs are “wink wink” at the billions of dollars worth of opiods that somehow end up going out the back door! As if they don’t know…and there was nothing they could do about it!

    Much of this stuff is well documented. There is a vast lobby, for example, which fought the Fed government (and won) for a decade or more to allow for unlimited access to the meth-making cold medicines.

    I should state that I think opiods should be legal…..

  • jaded one

    Just so you know, for my son it still costs $76 for generic ritalin, monthly. If I wanted to switch to 36mg generic concerta, the last cost I saw before giving that one up 3yrs ago was $176/month for a 10yo.

  • jaded one

    so this is your basis for an epipen to cost nearly $400?? Are you telling the person who has been affected by an allergy that it was their responsibility not to have that effect happen to their body?

  • Benny Worth

    Admittedly, I should have thought a little further before posting ‘improper’. I’ve dramatically reduced my meat intake over the years, but can’t quite make the full commitment.

    Still don’t see how turning from modern medicine is going to fix things, though, which seemed to be the point of ‘Guest’s post.

  • Slātlantican


    My own personal shock has been over the change in albuterol, which can also be life saving. Twenty years ago, a generic albuterol inhaler could be had for less than $10, without insurance. Now, the generic is no longer available at all—some bûll$hìt about CFCs and the ozone layer (Asthmatics are going to give everyone skin cancer!!), and my co-pay is $50, for a medicine that was created first in the 60s.

  • Slātlantican

    We’ve heard those lines before; did you not read the article?

    If I’m 22 years old, a college track star, in perfect health, a bee sting is still going to kill me if I’m allergic. What’s your point?

  • Slātlantican

    Do you think Lipitor would have been a top selling drug if more people would have eaten healthier? People want a quick fix and that means a pill to compensate for unhealthy eating.

    Agreed. But that has nothing to do with what has happened to the prices of EpiPens and albuterol.

  • Tina Marie

    True, True and unrelated.
    Yes, reducing obesity and its related illnesses would decrease our total health expenditure. However, that fact doesn’t justify this mark up.

    As long as we’re throwing around salary numbers, in 2012, the pfizer CEO received a compensation package of 18 million, and the CEO of aetna received a compensation package of over 36 million.

  • moderator


    You have been off-topic throughout this and other threads. Please return to the topic at hand. If you choose to continue off-topic, you will be unable to continue commenting on our site.

    Thank You,

  • Skeptique

    Let’s talk about insulin next, shall we? A single vial of Humalog costs $225+ without insurance (as I discovered when my under-insured 1 year old son came down with Type 1 diabetes — a disease never before seen in my family or any of my friends’ families) and you use a vial every month. And if you’re not using an insulin pump ($3000 for the device, plus $300+ in supplies every month), you get to pay an additional $200/month for a vial of Lantus.

    Without these medications, a slow, unpleasant death. With these medications, a slow, unpleasant descent into bankruptcy, at least until you’re poor enough to qualify for Medicaid… although, if you have a decent paying job, that day may never come, you just keep going deeper and deeper into debt.* Lovely choice. I either lose my child, or I have trouble providing him with the basic necessities to keep him healthy.

    *The ACA, of course, sought to address this by providing subsidies for purchasing health care policies for those who make too much money and don’t qualify for Medicaid, on the assumption Medicaid would be expanded… but my state’s governor is one of the Obamacare refusniks.

    I know drug R&D is expensive. But insulin, in one form or another, has been available as a compound for almost a century. All the R&D being done now is tweaking a known molecule to obtain slightly improved effects. Helpful? yes…. but where is the R&D needed to find a cure for the disease in the meantime? Insulin therapy is wonderful and life-saving, yes… but it is maintenance, and it is lucrative, so there is a financial disincentive to pursue curative therapies as a result.

  • Slātlantican


    I’m sorry that I didn’t scroll down further to find your post, warning Richard, before my last post.

    I disagree with your decision—he may have not been point on, but without his voice, this comments section was devoid of any discussion. The rest of us are just echoing one another.

    True discussion requires that all voices be heard. If the crowd here was more evenly divided, others could have provided the voices from the other side. But now, you have assured that there will be no dissent.

    A further suggestion: if you want to ban someone like Richard, then do so—but leave his previous comments in place. Why? So that you can make clear why this person was banned. Otherwise, it looks, to someone who comes along later, that you can’t brook dissent. I don’t really expect you to follow that advice; I gave the same words of wisdom to your counterparts at National Review Online, and they’re still censoring people, too.

  • moderator


    He has been removed from our discussion due to comments that did not make it past the review stage. However, I mistakenly removed his previous comments, they have been re-posted. Thanks for the heads-up.


  • Terry Hatch

    This is exactly right Karl. I go to a specialist for prostate issues in a practice of 8 physicians. I told him my primary doctor of 30 years is retiring, and asked him if he could recommend a single or dual physician practice. He laughed and said, “they don’t exist anymore, we all work for corporate now.” The health and drug industry is out of control in this country.

  • Terry Hatch

    Clinton held up such a card during a State of the Union address. Everyone clapped. Lobbyists killed his idea fast.

  • pointofgrille

    It will only happen when the push comes from the bottom and gains popular support as the people begin to realize we are one of the few developed nations still using illness to create profit for those (insurance companies) that just bleed the system.

  • Anonymous

    How come she doesn’t have her state’s free prescription drug card?

  • Anonymous

    I believe the NIH also has developed many medications and then those drugs are turned over (not sure what kind of remuniration is involved, maybe none?) to drug companies to further test and eventually sell them.

  • Anonymous

    All big industries own Congress, certainly the Pharmaceutical industry, that’s how our system works (of course all other countries are called corrupt by our government). I heard a typical Congressman, woman, has to spend roughly half their working hours on the phone trying to raise money for their next campaign.

  • Trumbull Desi

    Pfizer also produces Lantus insulin. My cat has diabetes and he takes a shot twice a day. When he was first prescribed it, it was $75 for a 3 month supply. I picked up a bottle last week for $248. The reason? The product patent is about to expire so Pfizer is price gouging, pure and simple.

    Because the medication is for my cat, I have to shell out the bucks. I asked my vet if we could change but because of his age the fact that he’s thriving to beautifully, the vet was reluctant to make a change because it could put his health at risk.

    My husband and I have the means to continue this treat. Sadly, I’m sure many others who are having financial difficulties have to make some very difficult choices. And I’m not talking about just pet owners. This is just greed, pure and simple.

  • Larry C

    Insurance shouldn’t pay? What is health insurance for then? I just completed the treatment and my insurer, Blue Cross paid $99,750. Insurance shouldn’t pay? Ridiculous! Whose side are you on?

  • Eric

    not sure about a “free” card here in Oregon but I use the card to get cheaper prices generic drugs while we are broke and trying to meet our huge deductible. Ordering from Canada is also really helpful. I’ve found a great pharmacy in Cananda and can buy in bulk or just pre-buy for the next month, my docs don’t even ask about it and handwrite the scrips so I can email them to the pharmacy (ordering for 3 years now, no problems)

    So while I have met my deductible, I take Xolair shots for my allergy induced Asthma…each shot 3000.00 twice a month (big help to dealing with my asthma). I also need to have an EpiPen…2 for 60 bucks on insurance. Those shots will end in January.

    I’m not going to go into my Bipolar meds, lets just say all are now generics and that is a huge weight off our family….3 years ago, we didn’t have much of a deductible…cheap meds…alternative care…….but now only reachable if the 4g’s deductible met.

  • moderator

    To the community:

    Please refrain from giving medical advice or linking to sites that do.

    Thank You,

  • Anonymous

    High cholestersol can have a genetic basis too, Richard. Not everyone who takes a statin eats poorly…

  • Jon

    The US is such a hopeless mess in this regard. I’m an American living in the Netherlands. Here we have national health insurance which costs 1200 euros a year (about $1500) per person. You can buy private supplemental insurance. My wife and I pay about 400 euros a month for premium supplemental insurance for both of us. It covers medication, as well as virtually everything else forever, with no lifetime maximum, with an annual deductible of 360 euros/year. Quality of care is comparable to the US in all respects.

  • Claude Martin-Mondiere

    You are right. an epipen is the most secure treatment to have on hand. The health care system in US is far different from Europe and the price of efficient medicine is not controlled because of the system. Medicine is sold as grocery, both has to be addressed to make a healthier country

  • Claude Martin-Mondiere

    Yes the control of quality and price is regulated in Europe as a single payer system. The healthcare system must be addressed for all these diseases we need.

  • Claude Martin-Mondiere

    Regulation of food industry must be addressed to stop poisoning, creating also serious diseases and obesity in addition. Yes 10% of less obesity will help.

  • Morgan

    Has anyone priced Viagra lately? What used to be a $12 pill is now as high as $30 to $40 (maybe even higher by now). Over in Mexico you can get them for $5 a pill. Figure THAT one out.

  • Anonymous

    Colchicine went from $4 to $180 or more.

  • Nora Roseberry

    100 mg progesterone went from $21 to $45 in the past 3 months.

  • Nora Roseberry

    As a tiny 5-foot-4, 118-pound female I can vouch that type 2 does not show up on your doorstep only if you ate too many Twinkies.

  • Anonymous

    “Quick fix” is the PR campaign of snake-oil salesmen since, forever. Americans are conditioned by it 24/7. I am constantly amazed by the TV pressure ads telling everyone, “Ask your doctor if (this drug) is right for you.” The doctor has merely become a pusher for big Pharma.

  • Susan

    If it was patented in 1977, hasn’t the patent expired by now? I thought patents were only for 20 years.

  • Braided River Floral

    I hate Pfizer.

  • Rich Frist

    A patent issued in 1977 would have expired in 1994 (17 years from date of issue). Patents issued today (after 1996) expire 20 years after their filing date.. (which usually gives an active life of about 17 years since it takes approximately 3 years to get a patent to issue).

  • Donna

    Blaming the victim is an old ploy. None of your statements begins to address the huge price jumps and exorbitant costs of these products. This is a similar excuse to the one used by oil companies when they jack the price of heating fuel every fall for the winter. They are trying to “teach” us to be frugal, in the dead of winter, when we need heat to live. It’s rubbish. They do it to bleed as much money as possible from a public that often has no choice but to find a way to purchase the product.

  • Anonymous

    The pharmaceutical diffuse the notion that high prices here are due to keep innovation going and strong. I find it absurd that the United States has the greatest burden of thier “notion”.

  • Anonymous

    Considering Big Pharma comes from JD Rockefeller’s Big Oil after losing in SCOTUS, this stinks! And congress has proved useless in this area! Just increased the cost with Part D and now ACA obamacare

  • Anonymous

    Patents are 17 years aren’t they? So why is Mylan raking in the dough?

  • Anonymous

    My dental “co-pay” for three caps went from $400 to $1,200 since 2007. Friend of mine has to pay $1,980 to have 4 teeth pulled…the back molars. I suspect in anticipation of ACA and after passage everyone raised prices knowing they can negotiate down. This was collusion. So the drugs are the same…easier to reduce prices then go up.

  • Dan Munro

    It’s really bone simple. The U.S. healthcare system has been optimized around revenue and profits – not safety and quality. The reason we’re struggling so mightily to change it is also simple. It’s a 2 sentence quote from Republican Governor of Florida – Rick Scott. “How many businesses do you know that want to cut their revenue in half? That’s why the healthcare system won’t reform the healthcare system.”

  • Trumbull Desi

    Because it’s capitalism and the free market. That’s what counts in this country – stockholders, not human beings.

  • Anonymous

    Big Pharma has just about pushed society to the breaking point. Articles like this help push us to that edge …. which will result in (waking from our ignorance coma) and demanding drug price controls like all the other civilized nations have,

  • Courtenay O’Connell

    I paid $25 for two pack Thursday at Publix. This link will make it zero.

  • Grrry

    I respect your pragmatism Benny. Thank you.

  • Anonymous

    I once translated the vanity biography of the president of a Japanese pharmaceutical firm. He admitted that his company price gouged in the U.S. because it was the only country where the government didn’t regulate or negotiate drug prices.

  • Anonymous

    Make it even easier,do like every other country in the world and REGULATE the pharmaceutical industry.. I”m tired of hearing that we are the greatest country on earth. That was a long time ago. Greed took over when Reagan Deregulated everything!

  • Invasive Evasion

    If I sell someone a $10k car for $300k, I can justify it by saying that people should just start riding bicycles or use public transportation. But the issue of why someone wants a car is separate from the issue of how much I am price gouging them when they do buy one. Likewise, the personal habits (such as poor eating, lack of exercise, obesity) which create the demand for healthcare are a separate issue from the rampant price gouging which happens when that care is purchased. You’re attempting to use a red herring technique to switch the focus from immoral price gouging, to unhealthy personal lifestyles. Reducing the overall demand for healthcare with healthier living, and the resulting overall costs, is a different issue than the one of what percentage of those overall costs come from immoral sociopathic price gouging by corporations. Your justification of price gouging seems to be a deliberately crafted invalid and deceptive argument.

  • JenellYB

    The Medicare Part D coverage gap, or ‘donut hole’ has NOT been closed, and won’t be until 2020. Some benefits are helping ease the burden of the coverage gap as it is gradually phased in.

  • P.Eaton

    I did not mean that we should not get the medication covered. I met that the price is so ridiculous and such a gouge. There is no reason it needs to be that price except people will pay a lot for a medication that may insure that they will live and not die at an early age. Pharmaceutical Companies have all sold their soul to the devil.

  • Reseach Scientist

    It is unfortunate for those of you who can’t afford medications such as insulin, Lantus…etc. As a research scientist I have to say that developing a drug specifically targeting a certain type of disease or disorder is extremely difficult and costly. Pharmaceutical research is a type of work which requires innovation, hard work and good luck and we should be rewarded for all the efforts and time in R&D. Pharmaceutical industry is not a NON-Profit industry nor a humanitarian organization. No laws will/should obligate the industry to treat and cure people with disorders/health problems at no/little cost. It is an industry to make profits, like any other industries existing today. People should realize that the work we do in the pharmaceutical industry is extremely challenging and stressful, given the fact that we are dealing with biological events which have not set of laws and equations.

  • Reseach Scientist

    Pharmaceutical industry is a business to make profits, not a humanitarian organization. We are proud of what we do in terms of making a difference in people’s lives. It is also a type of work which is extremely complicated, challenging and stressful. The bottom line is WE ARE ENTITLED TO ALL THE COMPENSATION AS THE RESULT OF OUR HARD WORK.

  • Trumbull Desi

    I’m sorry, but when the pharmaceutical companies start charging American citizens in the same ballpark as they price for other countries, maybe you’ll gain from sympathy from me. But the fact of the matter is they gouge the US because they have good lobbyists who convinced our stupid politicians not to use the weight of the US government to bargain with them for more reasonable pricing.

    And I never suggested that what pharmaceutical companies does isn’t important, and I certainly never suggested they should do it for free. But you will never convince me that the pharmaceutical companies aren’t greedy. Because they are.

  • Anonymous

    If you want to see how these things go, consider the ailment called and advertised liberally called “PBA”. The cure apparently is a regular dose of dextromethporphan and quinidine, both generics for years (one is a common OTC cough suppressant and the other is used for treatment of arrhythmia, and known since 1912). Both very cheap to make. But an enterprising firm has combined them and patented the result, which it is aggressively marketing for treatment of PBA–at about $350 per month to the patient, which can pretty much go on perpetually.

    Or consider Combigan – a combination of two generic drugs used for treatment of glaucoma. Offered at several times the price of either. The only benefit seems to be that one can use only one drop per eye instead of two.

    Then there are the drugs that are about to go off-patent. Compare the price of Travatan-Z, another glaucoma medication, soon to be generic to what it was a year ago. You’d think it’d get cheaper, but no, the manufacturer wants to squeeze every last nickel out of the patent before the expiration date. They can’t really cite education or marketing costs, because basically there aren’t any now.

  • Pat

    Yes, you are entitled to compensation but you are NOT entitled to rob people of their hard earned money!