Generic Drugs

Prices for common generic drugs have skyrocketed over the last year. Why?

I’ve tried to do some research and have come up with this: Generic drug manufacturers have gone through mergers and acquisitions to the point where the are often only one or two manufacturers of certain generic drugs. In a free market economy, prices are set by the manufacturer. Given only 2 manufacturers, then, there is no incentive to keep prices low. In fact, Bloomberg reported that one of the two manufacturers of a common heart control drug raised it’s prices. This led to a decline in the stock value of the second manufacturer, which was then ‘forced’ to raise it’s prices in order to maintain its market value–for its share holders.

The second ‘problem’ is that America is way too over-medicated. In a lot of ways, that’s a problem within the medical field, which seems to prescribe the same medication for anything from a painful hang-nail to cancer pain relief.

That brings up the response from the insurance companies, which have to cut down on their expenses.(?) They often do so by questioning the need for certain medications and/or procedures and denying coverage if insurance company doctors don’t agree that the drug/procedure is really needed.

Is this the result of a free-market society? Probably.

But what about the consumer?

Mr/s. Smith has had a heart attack and survived. The doctor prescribes Digoxen–a medication derived from the foxglove plant. It’s to be taken once a day in order to prevent another heart attack. Since the medication can be a generic, the patient buys the generic. Okay.

But what if the patient does nothing other than take the drug? What if s/he hasn’t included diet and exercise in their wellness program? Are the insurance companies–always driven by profit motive–tired of paying for drugs taken by people who don’t help themselves?

Is this one small way why the consumer ends up paying more in our free-market society?

When someone gets rich off something, that means people paid more than it was worth.

RIte-Aid actually stood to benefit from the new prescription coverages under the healthcare law because they actually have higher margins on generic drugs, and apparently the law creates a larger demand for those. But then they had some shitty earnings anyway because everyone knows that drugstores are the most expensive place to get a soda and a bag of chips, so the front end sales dropped and yeah yeah…you get it. They greeded themselves out of about 20% of the share price. Greed doesn’t always work. Sometimes you gotta have a limit.

Two word solution: regulation and anti-trust.

I agree. Without regulation, the profiteers would just finish off the rest of us and then cannibalize themselves. It’s disgusting.

And the same applies to “money”… a different type of intoxication.

James could you repeat the question?

I’ll start with you, jonquil, if you don’t mind. Most people don’t think mergers create monopolies, necessarily. When they think of anti-trust laws they think of the impressions they got from reading the history of the laws–back to the turn of the 20th century when monopoly-making was rampant. Now, a corp. buys diverse companies, allows them to maintain their names and management, and makes little or no policy change unless the acquired company loses money for the corporation. If the company continues to lose money, it’s axed.

Patented brand-named pharmaceuticals are regulated by the FDA; generic drugs aren’t–although they may end up being. The generics ‘rent’ the brand name formulae–adding the rental cost to the product. The largest generic drug industry is in India. Since brand drug sales are being taken over by generics, the brand names are starting to fight the generics, using the great US fear factor. “Don’t buy your pharms from outside the country–they may not be safe!” It’ll come before the SCOTUS before anything is done.

In the meantime, generic drugs are supposed to be part of the answer to spiraling medical costs–but are they?

No one has responded to the over-medication of America, which I believe is also a part of the problem. I think it comes from both the patient and the medical community. People will often self-diagnose and take one or two of the ‘pills’ they’ve saved to, say, ease pain. The drug worked for the condition for which it was prescribed, so it should work again. Right? Not!

I don’t know of any mail-order medical degrees. What may have helped in one instance, may not work in another. It takes a specialist to determine if the pain is caused by the same underlying condition. I know of a woman who put off going to a doctor for months because she thought her pain was arthritis and was taking arthritis script medication to alleviate the pain. She finally went to an MD who discovered she’d broken her coccyx in a fall. She’s now in a brace, which helps the pain and will allow the bone to heal properly.

And then there are doctors who prescribe, for whatever reason, unnecessary drugs. “Oh, doctor, please give me something to take away my sadness! I can’t sleep because of it.” So the doctor prescribes a drug that helps the sleeping problem, but goes no further. See what I mean?

The insurance companies get involved because they are under orders to make a profit while cutting medical costs. How can they do that? They hire teams of physicians to review your doctor’s orders and decide if what your doctor has prescribed is really needed. In many cases, coverage is denied as a result of the insurance company’s medical decisions.

In many cases, the doctors have ‘opted out’ of the Medicare program because it doesn’t pay them as much as does some private insurance companies. They’re becoming ‘society’ doctors–a further step in the disparity between the haves and the have nots.

And so it goes.