The Great Generic Drug Rip-Off

Big Pharma has followed the only avenue left to reap billion-dollar profits: jack up the price of generics.

What happens when rapacious cartels run out of billion-dollar-profit products? They jack up the price of what was previously low-cost. And why are they able to raise prices by 388% to 8,000% at will? Because they can. That’s the whole point in having a cartel that is enabled and enforced by the cartel’s toadies and apologists in the central state (federal government): price increases can be imposed on the government and the private sector at will.

I was alerted to the extraordinary price increases in widely used generic drugs by Ishabaka (M.D.), who forwarded this fact sheet issued by the office of Senator Bernie Sanders: (Chart is reproduced below)

Staggering Price Increases for Generic Drugs

“Rep. Elijah E. Cummings and Senator Bernard Sanders sent letters to 14 drug manufacturers requesting information about the escalating prices of generic drugs used to treat everything from common medical conditions to life-threatening illnesses. Data was provided by the Healthcare Supply Chain Association (HSCA) on recent purchases by group purchasing organizations (GPOs) of ten generic drugs.”

Here are Ishabaka’s comments:

“I’d like to focus on the top one – doxycycline. This is a very effective antibiotic for pneumonia, bronchitis, and sexually transmitted diseases (chlamydia and gonorrhea). Throughout my medical career, it has been a cheap generic drug I used all the time. It’s cost has gone up from $20 a prescription to over $1,600 a prescription in the last 12 months.

Low-income people used to be able to afford doxycycline, which would stop the spread of these serious, sometimes life-threatening infections. Now they can’t, and there is no drug as good as doxycycline available cheaply. I think this is an outrage. Imagine if a generic bottle of aspirin increased in price from $10 a bottle to $800 a bottle in 12 months – Americans would be marching in protest.”

Drug Use Average Market Price Oct. 2013 Average Market Price April 2014 Average Percentage Increase
Doxycycline Hyclate
(bottle of 500, 100 mg tablets)
antibiotic used to treat a variety of infections $20 $1,849 8,281%
Albuterol Sulfate
(bottle of 100, 2 mg tablets)
used to treat asthma and other lung conditions $11 $434 4,014%
Glycopyrrolate
(box of 10 0.2 mg/mL, 20 mL vials)
used to prevent irregular heartbeats during surgery $65 $1,277 2,728%
Divalproex Sodium ER
(bottle of 80, 500 mg tablets ER 24H)
used to prevent migraines and treat certain types of seizures $31 $234 736%
Pravastatin Sodium
(bottle of 500, 10 mg tablets)
used to treat high cholesterol and to prevent heart disease $27 $196 573%
Neostigmine Methylsulfate
(box of 10 1:1000 vials)
used in anesthesia to reverse the effects of some muscle relaxants $25 $121 522%
Benazepril/
Hydrochlorothiazide
(bottle of 100, 20-25 mg tablets)
used to treat high blood pressure $34 $149 420%
Isuprel
(box of 25, 0.2 mg/mL vials)
used to treat heart attacks and irregular heartbeat $916 $4,489 390%
Nitropress
(50 mg vial)
used to treat congestive heart failure and reduce blood pressure $44 $215 388%
Digoxin
(single tablet, 250 mcg)
used to treat irregular heartbeats and heart failure $0.11 $1.10 884%

The murky world of drug pricing is attracting some much-needed attention:

Lawmakers Look for Ways to Provide Relief for Rising Cost of Generic Drugs

For 30 years, generic medications helped make health care cheaper. Why is their cost surging?

What politicos and the mainstream media cannot dare state openly is obvious: the system of drug development and generic drug pricing/distribution is broken in the U.S., and the core cause is the cartel-like structure of Big Pharma and the rest of the healthcare system.

Though nobody in officialdom or the mainstream media can say this publicly, the reason for these outrageous increases is painfully obvious: As Big Pharma’s stable of billion-dollar drugs slip off patent, their profit pipeline is weakening.

The pipeline of potentially billion-dollar-profit drugs (so-called blockbuster drugs) is thin. So Big Pharma has followed the only avenue left to reap billion-dollar profits: jack up the price of generics, and push the government to pay the outrageous increases via Medicare and Medicaid and force the increases on private insurers and providers. If we just roll over and accept 8,000% increases, we deserve the corrupt, rapacious system we have.

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  • MCB

    Great piece Charles! I knew people 10 years ago that took Doxycycline for acne and Rosecea and I didn’t know that they had jacked up the price so high. This is ridiculous. This also acts as a de facto tax on the middle class too.

  • Krimsen King

    and they say a profit-based healthcare system isn’t just great for everybody….. pish posh, huh……

    • Well, lets go back in time before government became our ‘Statist Nanny’ with this being your history lesson on Health Care!

      How Government Solved the Health Care Crisis!

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IBFoC1gkExI

      • Krimsen King

        just because nothing ever functions perfectly, just because there are ALWAYS problems in any system, that don’t actually mean things just shouldn’t be done, that systems just shouldn’t be developed…. or improved… government doesn’t have to be the ‘answer to everything’ just to be able to ‘help some situations’… and really, being absolutely anti-government is not REMOTELY conservative… only the modern absolutist, puritanical political/religious cult CALLING itself ‘conservative’ or ‘true conservative’ believes such ridiculous things… in other words…. we don’t need to throw the baby out with the bathwater…. in this case, the ‘baby’ would be ‘FREELY AND FAIRLY-ELECTED DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC’… u know, government of, by and for WE THE PEOPLE…. it’s that kind of government we don’t need to fear 😉

  • Foster Patterson

    The entire pharmaceutical industry is based on snake-oil solutions that injure and kill significant percentages of their customers. Pharmaceuticals are an offshoot of the petro-chemical industry, creating facade organizations (like the AMA) to promote petro-chemical based health solutions over natural or holistic approaches (which can’t be patented and monetized as greatly). So based on the fact that pharmaceuticals are not truly medicine and are never the only available remedy to a health concern there is really no reason to use them at all. I have survived nearly 60 years without the use of these corporate poisons. Who cares how much they cost, price is irrelevant. No one should be taking them. The solution isn’t to lower the prices, the solution is to ignore the industry and when enough people do, it goes away.

  • Irrefutable proof that Big Pharma is a criminal racket: Bribery, scientific fraud, felony crimes and more, July 20, 2014

    Those of us who have long been describing the pharmaceutical industry as a “criminal racket” over the last few years have been wholly vindicated by recent news. Drug and vaccine manufacturer Merck was caught red-handed by two of its own scientists faking vaccine efficacy data by spiking blood samples with animal antibodies. GlaxoSmithKline has just been fined a whopping $3 billion for bribing doctors, lying to the FDA, hiding clinical trial data and fraudulent marketing. Pfizer, meanwhile has been sued by the nation’s pharmacy retailers for what is alleged as an “overarching anticompetitive scheme” to keep generic cholesterol drugs off the market and thereby boost its own profits.

    http://www.naturalnews.com/046076_Big_Pharma_criminal_racket_irrefutable_proof.html

  • Clif Brown

    I’m confused. I thought generics were manufactured by other companies than the ones who had the patent on the original and only came into being after the patent rights had expired. I thought once a drug became generic it could be manufactured by any company with the equipment to produce it. If this is true, how do the big pharma companies have any leverage to boost prices on products over which they no longer have exclusive rights?

  • Skip V. Patel

    The [Former] United States is an oligarchy run by grifters, banksters and monopolists. Favoured monopolies pay off Congress (CPACS anyone?) and the entire concept of “Free trade” is gone with the wind. Generic drugs are purchased at VERY LOW PRICES from Indian, Israeli and Irish pharmaceutical companies…..and sold at 10,000% mark-ups.

    Welcome to Post America, a land that would make Unkel Josef Stalin proud.

  • Paul Meiners

    I need to take Flomax in generic form. .4 mg/day
    Here is the amazing part. At non generic price of $204./30 days, the cost of the ingredient is….
    $17.50 /mg
    $17500.00 /gram
    $7,936,250.00 /lb, yes folks almost 8 million dollars for a pound.
    For that you could get 413.35 lbs of gold

    Illicit drug dealers are selling the wrong stuff on the street, a kilo of this goes for $17,500,000., yes 171/2 million dollars; we must thank our paid off Congressman for our drug prices.

    Folks we are getting royally screwed!!