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Front Page » February 8, 2005 » Opinion » War on the high cost of prescription drugs heating up
Published 4,401 days ago

War on the high cost of prescription drugs heating up

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Before we present a discussion on the high cost of prescription drugs a comparison of a few drugs used in some households in Emery County may be helpful.

This comparison will include the cost of drugs from pharmacies in our area, the amount some insurance companies will or will not pay, also the cost of purchasing drugs over the Internet from USA pharmacies and from Canadian pharmacies.

The conclusion from this study was that pharmaceutical manufacturers should be required to sell their products to every country in the world for the same price. Those who need prescription drugs in the USA should not be overcharged while other countries receive the same drugs at a much lower price. The pharmaceutical manufacturers are still making a profit although selling to countries like Canada at a lower rate.

Comparison shopping with licensed pharmacies is the best way to save on your prescription drug costs.

If your health insurance provider is raising prices it is because the cost of prescription drugs continue to outpace the cost of inflation.

If you would like to see the cost of prescription drugs brought under control contact your congressman and senator and ask them to require the pharmaceutical industry to sell all products for the same price in all countries.

The Kaiser Family Foundation recently ran a survey about, drug re-importation, lowering health care costs, malpractice reform and the cost of insurance. Re-importation of drugs ranked the lowest in the survey. (Source:

In 2004 Americans spent $216.4 billion dollars on prescription drugs, up more than 11 percent over the previous year. (According to the Fairfield, Conn. based pharmaceutical research firm IMS Health.)

A May 2004 "Families USA" study found the 30 most frequently prescribed name-brand drugs for seniors rose 6.5 percent in 2003. For 26 of those drugs available in 2001, prices rose 22 percent over three years. Those cost increases outpace the discounts available on the new Medicare drug cards.

Because the big pharmaceutical manufacturers use unregulated pricing practices, pervasive marketing campaigns, influence those who write prescriptions and lobby lawmakers, they can continue to keep their prices high. (Source:

Many large corporations are considering the question, "Do we want to continue providing health care for our employees and retirees?" Corporations like General Motors see the cost of prescription drugs going up 16 and 17 percent when the rate of inflation is 3 percent or less. These continual increases in the cost of health care may cause some companies to cut back on what they provide for their employees.

Employers are growing alarmed at the amount of corporate money being spent yearly by the company to provide prescription drugs for the employees and retirees.

Healthcare plan sponsors like General Motors see the barrage of direct-to-consumer ads put out by drug makers as a major problem. Employers say these television and print ads for drugs such as Claritin, Prilosec and Prozac - create a demand for drugs that many employees simply do not need. This direct-to-consumer comunication drives up unnecessary utilization said, Robert Minton, manager of healthcare communications at GM. When a patient walks into a doctors office and asks for a particular drug they saw advertised on TV, most of the time the doctor will prescribe it. (Source: CFO.Com = Chief Financial Officer publication )

Several states in the United States are attempting to pass legislation to legalize the re-importation of prescription drugs from Canada. Other states are considering the possibility of organizing a large purchasing pool for drugs that would allow them to negotiate the price.

The State of Oregon is attempting to organize a prescription drug purchasing pool that would include state agencies, local governments, employers and Oregon residents that want to participate. This drug purchasing pool would have the power to negotiate prices with drug manufacturers. Some in Oregon feel the taxpayers are being gouged by the drug manufacturers. About 10 percent of the states budget is being used to pay for prescription drugs. Oregon officials estimate, such a state wide prescription drug purchasing pool could save the state approximately $60 million a year and reducing the cost of prescription drugs by 20 percent.

This bulk purchasing could lower drug prices for Oregon citizens. For more information use web site.

The pharmaceutical industry which is four times as profitable as many Fortune 500 Companies claims it needs a lot of money for research and development. Many of these drug companies spend more than twice as much on advertising than they do on research and development.

New drugs are advertised on TV as well as older drugs that are falling off in sales. Consumers see these advertised drugs and go to their healthcare provider and insist they have this drug . In most cases the doctor will do what the patient wants.

You are paying twice for prescription drugs. Your tax dollars are used, for example, to subsidize the development of a cancer treatment drug. Then the drug manufacturer charges patients 20 times the cost of producing the drug. (Source: Oregon State Public Interest Research Group)

New York State is recruiting AARP members to gather drug pricing information from pharmacies. The information will be added to a website (this site compares prices for 50 commonly prescribed drugs). State Attorney General Eliot Spitzer's office gets help from AARP's Rx Watchdog program. The attorney general released information that drug prices can vary more than $100 per prescription. The price of prescription drugs can vary greatly from pharmacy to pharmacy. That is why comparison shopping is so necessary when purchasing prescription drugs.

AARP's national survey indicated prices charged to drug wholesalers for 197 brand-name drugs increased 7.4 percent in 2004. This was much higher than the rate of inflation which was less than 2 percent for the year of 2004.

A recent lawsuit against TAP Pharmaceuticals accused them of bribing doctors to prescribe their drug over competitors. They were accused of giving these doctors free samples and discounted prices and suggesting the doctor could charge Medicare and Medicaid the full price. The company pleaded guilty and was required to pay $885 million to settle criminal and civil charges, this was in 2001, the largest settlement in history. (Source: AARP January 2005)

PHRMA or the Pharmaceutical Manufactures Association is an organization set up to protect the interests of the pharmaceutical industry. This organization is set up to defend the industry against law suits and to fight any legislation that could cut into profits. They lobby Congress against the re-importation of drugs from Canada or Mexico.

They do not want current health and safety laws to be changed to allow distributors to import prescription drugs from Canada. They say federal law on prescription drug imports reflects well documented concerns about the safety of imported drugs. These imported drugs may be unapproved, adulterated, contaminated or counterfeit.

The Federal Drug Administration repeats the above claims on their web page about buying medicines and medical products Online. (Source

PHRMA would tell you that prescription drugs in the USA are the best value in health care - saving lives, reducing pain, keeping people out of hospitals and reducing other health care spending. The costs of drugs is about 10percent of the health care dollar, according to PHRMA. (Source )

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