Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Someone else is getting rich here - and its not the patient

I have often wondered why medications are so expensive here and so cheap in other countries. I read this really long article, which focuses on asthma drugs but can be applied to any prescriptions:

I learned this:

"In all other developed countries, governments similarly use a variety of tools to make sure that drug manufacturers sell their products at affordable prices. In Germany, regulators set drug wholesale and retail prices. Across Europe, national health authorities refuse to pay more than their neighbors for any drug. In Japan, the price of a drug must go down every two years. 

Drug prices in the United States are instead set in hundreds of negotiations by hospitals, insurers and pharmacies with drug manufacturers, with deals often brokered by powerful middlemen called group purchasing organizations and pharmacy benefit managers, who leverage their huge size to demand discounts. The process can get nasty; if mediators offer too little for a given product, manufacturers may decide not to produce it or permanently drop out of the market, reducing competition."

So basically here in the US we are held at the mercy of the drug manufacturers and their middle men.

And here's this little kicker. The manufacturers always say the research costs drive up the costs of their drugs. But how about this little factoid:

"Critics counter that drug companies spend far more on marketing and sales than the 15 percent and 20 percent of their revenues that they devote to research and development."

In the real world, most companies budget a lot less of their revenues for marketing... Do we really need those ads with the disclaimers that make things sound horrible?

So my thoughts now are:
  1. We really need a system to tell drug companies we will not be at their mercy and medications must be made available at affordable prices
  2. Drug companies are getting rich at the expense of patients
  3. Because of the high costs of drugs, insurance companies are getting involved in decisions which should be left to doctors
  4. And to the drug companies, I would like to say "liar, liar, pants on fire" to their claim their research costs are what drive their high drug costs.

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