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article imageOp-Ed: US script meds cost average 300 per cent more than global prices

By Paul Wallis     Nov 22, 2019 in Health
New York - If there was ever any question that Big Pharma is milking sick people, a new study has found global price data which shows the United States is the undisputed cash cow. Some meds cost up to 2682% more in the US.
These drugs include some very familiar names for everything from depression to cardio to arthritis. The sheer greed and totally unnecessary extra expense is staggering. According to these figures, meds prices are systematically higher, which is highly unlikely in any competitive environment. That’s an anti-trust issue.
Anti-Trust issue? Yep, and fully documented
There are US laws against price-fixing, which is what this pattern of abuse seems to be. There is no good reason why the same drug should cost so much more in different countries. Interestingly, if you like fully documented atrocities, prices vary a lot, worldwide. Some countries pay quite a bit more, some pay quite a bit less.
Nor is there any reason why any particular country should be paying so much more for the same things. In the US, the country which invented Prozac, Prozac costs 2124.89% more, for example.
Ironically, Big Pharma’s own data proves the anti-trust issues beyond doubt. HOW can a tablet cost 20 different prices for multiple manufacturers? This is white-collar crime at its dazzlingly stupidest, with decades of proof of price manipulation.
Price gouging, American style
Unless you’ve been living in an enema for the last 10-15 years, the Big Pharma E Pluribus Unum Gouge issue has never gone away. Nor has a damn thing ever been done about it. You never hear of meds prices going down, despite so many years of complaints. These prices can cause real financial hardship. Some people can’t buy the meds they need, simply because of costs.
There’s no doubt at all that this pricing can pose a serious medical risk to people affected. The choice with Prozac is depression or a 2124.89% higher price which may be totally out of reach. Meds costs can break people’s finances over time, too. You can stay healthy-ish as long as you can pay. Then you’re in big trouble.
Organized crime and meds
One of the most lucrative rackets described by Roberto Saviano in his book Gomorrah is also rather informative. Seems that stealing the brand new drugs right off the docks and selling them to the pharmaceutical dispensaries and/or the distributors is pretty profitable. The importers can claim the stolen drugs from insurers, then repurchase the drugs and sell at top retail prices. In Italy drug prices are 90.36% above median, too, so someone’s doing nicely. Isn’t that wonderful?
An irresponsible, out of control pharmaceutical sector
If organized crime is opportunistic, Big Pharma is simply corrupt, and arguably insane. The quality and nature of the drugs and their risks which is costing so much is rarely mentioned in the cost debate, (Grovelling is a form of debate?) but it’s worth a look.
Consider the “opioid epidemic”, which has turned painkillers into a gigantic black market. Standard strong painkillers were big for a while, until Fentanyl came along and turned it into a major industry for black markets. Who’s responsible for Fentanyl and opioid manufacturing it by the ton? The line between Big Pharma and systematic crime has long since been erased.
The big drug prices spiral fraud
TIME Magazine had an interesting article earlier this year on exacty how drug prices rise. Pointing out that there are “no regulations governing how drugs are priced”, TIME explains that the mix of manufacturing, pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs) and insurers is the working mechanism. A cut is given to all involved, of course, so everything's just that cute bit more expensive.
The prices are absurd. TIME cites a case in which “AbbVie’s rheumatoid-arthritis drug Humira climbed from $19,000 a year to $60,000 a year—and that’s after rebates.” This is a nasty condition, and it became 200% nastier thanks to this spiral. Also bear in mind these drugs don't cost anything like as much as their consumer prices to make.
Price rises for meds are NOT illegal. They’re merely unethical, deranged, and totally unrealistic. Economically, the spiral is nothing less than maniacal. Trillions of dollars are pulled into the meds sector, too, taking money away from other sectors. People only have so much money. Something has to go, to pay for these meds.
People are being penalized financially for medical misfortunes beyond their control. Who the hell wants rheumatoid arthritis, for example? Diseases aren’t “ consumer discretionary spending”, for god’s sake. The bottom line here, and it really is the bottom line for so many people, is that they’re held hostage to a system which is totally unrestrained, and unaccountable. Sick people try to survive when the means of survival is sending them broke, as well as sick.
A remedy? Maybe so.
Who’s the unnecessary, super-expensive link in the supply chain of pharmaceuticals, you ask, happily digging a burrow so you have somewhere to live while you live to pay for your meds? Short answer - The manufacturers. Science researches and produces the drugs. Any chem lab can make them. Pharmacists distribute them. Anyone can market them. Doctors can make sure they’re the right drugs, and safe for specific needs.
This is the modern capitalist version of removing the useless Big Pharma input:
Turn meds into the equivalent of onsite instant 3D printing? Nothing easier to do with modern chem tech. It’d work well. No big companies, just intellectual property holders, strict regs, easy production and no nasty little fake people gouging every cent out of the very sick public. Costs to produce would be much lower. Accessibility and affordability would be restored instantly.
This is the “socialist” version, previously known as responsible government and responsible governance when people knew what words meant:
Do exactly the same thing sand ensure very strong quality and safety controls through regulation. Drugs are now free, producers get paid, the rest of the useless parasites go to hell. The sick simply get what they need.
One thing for sure
The absolute certainty is that the current situation can’t survive. About 80% of Americans are on some sort of meds. Many are understandably sourcing from external suppliers outside the US. The costs are far beyond exorbitant and hurting public health.
Either you fix it, or someone will come in with modern production, undercut the entire sector, and trash all those big equity stakes. The price gouging can make the gougers very sick too, and that’s the likely outcome.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of DigitalJournal.com
More about US pharmaceutical prices, Price fixing meds, US meds prices multiples of global prices, Prozac prices
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