New treatment drugs for disease tend to be more expensive, but the prices of reliable older drugs are now going through the roof.
Daraprim, used to treat parasitic infections like toxoplasmosis and malaria, has gone from $13.50 per tablet to $750. At one time, a tablet was just one dollar. Sales of this drug near ten million dollars, while prescription numbers are shrinking. The owner of the pharmaceutical company that produces these medications, Martin Shkreli, is a former hedge fund owner who owes millions to investors. His previous drug company, which he was fired from, believes he is just out to make money for himself by jacking up prices. Alternative drugs or therapies may not be as effective.
Prices of other drugs have gone up because they are rarely used and may be in shortage. Tuberculosis drug Cycloserine just increased from $500 for 30 pills to $10,800. Valeant Pharmaceuticals raised two heart drugs over 500%. The antibiotic Doxycycline went from $20 a bottle to $1849. These increases are unjustifiable and unsustainable for the future of healthcare.
Medicaid and some hospitals will be able to get Daraprim at an affordable rate, yet private insurers and Medicare patients will pay list price. Other companies could develop generics, as the patents have expired long ago, but Shkreli’s controlled distribution makes it hard to get samples needed. Some hospitals say the drug is too expensive to stock, if they can even get access to it. This will result in treatment delays. This price gouging is dangerous to patients who need these life-saving drugs.
Pollack, Andrew. “Drug Goes From $13.50 a Tablet to $750, Overnight.” Business. The New York Times, 20 Sep 2015. Web. 22 Sep 2015.