46 e) Issues beyond Cancer drugs & myths on cost
Cancer drugs aren’t the only costly prescription drugs, and even drugs prescribed for less serious ailments can break the average American’s bank, even with health insurance.
For instance, according to a 2013 report released by the International Federation of Health Plans, Nexium – the “purple pill” commonly prescribed for acid reflux – cost more than $200 for U.S. patients in 2013 and only $60 in Switzerland, the next-most-expensive price in the world for the same drug. In the Netherlands, it cost $23.
A generic version of Nexium became available in 2015, but AstraZeneca filed a restraining order against one company blocking it from selling the drug in the U.S., according to The Wall Street Journal.
Specialty drugs for chronic diseases like multiple sclerosis carry inflated prices. Prescriptions of Copaxone and Gilenya cost about $4,000 and $5,500, respectively, nearly three times more than the most-expensive price in other countries.
Americans pay more for their drugs than residents of any other country in the world. There are several reasons why, but two of the biggest myths promoted by Big Pharma involve the industry’s cost of research and development (R&D).
The Myths about Drugs Costing So Much Money to Make
The first thing pharmaceutical companies say when they answer questions about the retail cost of drugs is that prescription drugs cost a lot of money to get approved by the FDA. That stems from the millions of dollars that get spent developing the drugs.
On average, the cost of prescription drugs in the U.S. is at least double what people in other countries pay for the same exact product and in some cases, it can be as much as 10 times more. Why is the price so staggering for a drug that is the same formula and cheaper anywhere else in the world?
“I do worry that people’s fear and anxiety are being taken advantage of. And yes, it costs money to develop these drugs, but I do think the price is too high,” Saltz told 60 Minutes.
Pharmaceutical companies are fond of saying Americans take the lion’s share of the R&D costs for the rest of the world – calling other countries “foreign free riders.” So, drug companies are forced to charge Americans more to recover what they don’t get from other countries.
In fact, the more disturbing truth is that companies charge what they want in the U.S., and it’s a profiteering paradise for them.
PhRMA, the industry lobbying group, released a 2013 report showing that drug companies spent an estimated $48.5 billion on R&D in 2012. The most current figures they have (from the early 2000’s) show the cost of developing one drug is about $1.2 billion.
stay tuned next week for more on this