Generic Drug Prices Spiral Through the roof Why???

If you buy a lot of generic versions of your medications you may have noticed a big change in the price from 2013 to 2014. Prices have jumped not just 10% or 15% but in some cases 8,000% and more! For patients who are on a fixed income, and that is a large percentage of the population who take generic medications, having your monthly medication expenses jump hundreds of dollars puts once affordable options for treatment out of reach.

Why the big change? What could have caused so many different medications produced by different companies to all  increase their prices so significantly, especially when some of these medications have been around for ten years or more?

When we were contacted by one of our CRPS patients and a old friend of mine, Rocco B., we decided to investigate and we found that this is a very widespread problem and it is being reported, but ironically, no one seems to know about or be talking about the issues.

Have they increased the price because their costs went up? Or is it simply because it is an unregulated market and because they can, as one Pharmacist states in the video below. Could it really be that simple? Where does that leave patients struggling to make ends meet already, those Medicare and Medicaid patients who have to make up the difference?

Check out some of the articles that have been written about this very important issue just in the last few months.

Generic Drug Prices On The Rise – CBS Boston – September 26, 2014 
By Dr Mallika Marshall

BOSTON (CBS) — Generic drugs are the workhorses of health care. They are safe, effective, and affordable and they treat everything from migraines to life-threatening illnesses. But in the past few years, pharmacists and their patients have noticed a significant cost increase in some medicines. The prices are so high in some cases that patients are choosing to go without.
article continues, click on the link

Also see Dr Marshall in this video talking about the issue

Generic Drug Prices On The Rise – Nashua Telegraph – AP – January 2, 2015 
By Matthew Perrone

WASHINGTON – Some low-cost generic drugs that have helped restrain health care costs for decades are seeing unexpected price spikes of up to 8,000 percent, prompting a backlash from patients, pharmacists and now Washington lawmakers. A Senate panel met Thursday to scrutinize the recent, unexpected trend among generic medicines, which usually cost 30 to 80 percent less than their branded counterparts.
article continues, click on the link

Generic Drug Prices On The Rise – December 9, 2014 – PHARMA and UL 
By Karl Kapp

According to Vermont Senator, Bernie Sanders (I-VT), the prices of more than 1,200 generic medications increased an average of 448 percent between July 2013 and July 2014. This does not seem logical to the law maker as generic drug manufacturing companies don’t have the high investment in research and development and marketing that impact other Pharmaceutical companies.
article continues, click on the link

Drug Prices, Generics, and M&A Top the Agenda for 2015 – WSJ – December 25, 2014
By Ed Silverman

A new year always brings new challenges, and the pharmaceutical industry certainly has its share.

There are myriad issues, in fact, that will play out next year as drug makers struggle to please shareholders, replenish pipelines, engage regulators and contend with continuing demands to provide drugs to the neediest populations. Here are a few topics to keep an eye on in 2015.

FDA and the Generic Drug Backlog: About 3,500 generic-drug applications await Food and Drug Administration processing, but how fast can the agency reduce the backlog? Keith Flanagan, who heads policy at the FDA Office of Generic Drugs, says the agency is trying to exceed approval goals mandated by law. Notably, staffers are being instructed to focus on completing approvals, not just taking interim actions.

For generic-drug makers, this could be a mixed bag. “If your company is already making a ton of money with the only [generic] product on the market, it may not be so great,” says Sanford Bernstein analyst Ronny Gal. “But if your company wants to enter a market, then it could be good….If the process gets more efficient, you almost certainly will see more drugs approved and pricing will come down.”
article continuesclick on the link

What Is Going On With Generic Drug Prices? – September 29, 2014
A Country Doctor, MD 

Fran Barker called today. She was in a panic because the cost of her monthly prescription of 150 mg amitriptyline tablets had gone up to $130 from $13 the month before.

Amitriptyline has been available in this country since 1961, and the 100 mg strength was on Walmart’s list of $4/month drugs the last time I looked at it a few months ago.

I called Fran’s pharmacy. Two of the 75 mg tablets would be less expensive, about $75 for a one month supply, but this would still be a hardship for Fran, who is disabled and lacks prescription coverage.

A few months ago I read that the older, generic statin drugs for cholesterol were suddenly not on Walmart’s $4 list due to sudden price increases by the manufacturers.

Something similar happened to insulin a few years ago — it went from a few dollars to $80 per vial without any explanation that I was aware of.

I have Googled around a few times to try to find out what is happening, or what people think is happening, but the dramatic price increases I have run into don’t seem to be getting much press.

It appears to me that the pharmaceutical companies have stopped their price competition, possibly by secretly dividing up the market and definitely by limiting supplies. If that is true, antitrust laws are likely being broken. Meanwhile, people with chronic illnesses are being squeezed financially even more than they already have been.
article continuesclick on the link 

Who Will Feel The Pain From Generic Drug Price Inflation? – December 13, 2014 – Yahoo Finance
By Wayne Duggan 

A recent Morgan Stanley report presented analysts’ case for why they believe that generic drug prices will be on the rise in the near future.

Reasons for generic drug price inflation include increased FDA regulatory obstacles, consolidation of generic drug producers, and increasing complexity of generic drug production.

Since 2011, the FDA has issued 60 warning letters to domestic and international drug manufacturers related to violations of its Good Manufacturing Practices. If this pattern continues in 2015, import bans and factory shutdowns could play a role in rising generic drug prices.

Analysts predict that an increase in FDA presence in India could lead to more prohibitory action there in 2015. Several recent news reports have noted the increase in surprise FDA inspections in India. The cost of any supply disruption due to FDA action will likely be passed on to consumers in the form of higher prices.

After an astounding recent period of consolidation, analysts estimate that over 90 percent of generic drug purchasing is controlled by only three groups:

  • AmeriSourceBergen Corp. (NYSE: ABC)/Walgreen Company (NYSE: WAG)
  • Cardinal Health Inc (NYSE: CAH)/CVS Health Corp (NYSE: CVS)
  • McKesson Corporation (NYSE: MCK)

The article continues, click on the link 


So where does all of this leave you – the patient?

Doctors and Pharmacists are quick to point out that if you find yourself in a situation where your costs rise significantly and you are being forced into a situation where you cannot afford your medication then you need to communicate this to your physician immediately.

Many of us who live with chronic pain know someone who sometimes has to choose between food/rent and medication and these price increases for the cheapest medications available will only serve to make a difficult situation worse.

Never stop taking any medication without first discussing it with your physician as that could lead to serious side effects, withdrawal issues, and other health complications. There may be alternative medications your Doctor can put you on that are less expensive.

Let’s get the word out about this and get people talking. Write to your Congressional Representatives and Senators and ask them to find out what is going on.

Peace, Keith Orsini
American RSDHope
January 2015