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22 Jun

The Ever Rising Cost of Prescription Drugs

The Ever Rising Cost of Prescription Drugs

Last year, I did a post about Step Therapy, a program insurance companies implement when deciding what drugs they will cover.  They most likely will have you start with the oldest and cheapest drugs, before approving newer drugs.  But are the insurance companies really the bad guys? 

 I was watching an episode of 60 Minutes on June 21st.  They had rebroadcasted an episode “The Cost of Cancer Drugs” they did in October of 2014.  Dr. Leornard Saltz of  Memorial Sloan Kettering was interviewed, and mentioned one drug Zaltrap, use for colan cancer, that acted much like an older drug Avastin.  The biggest difference was the cost.  The new Zaltrap was approximately twice as much as the old Avastin.  He went on to mention that with Medicare’s co-pay of 20%, a patient has to come up with at least $2000 per month for Zaltrap. 

But what of the old drugs?  The episode also interviewed Dr. Hagop Kantarjian of MD Anderson. He talked about the drug Gleevec used to treat GML, a blood cancer.  It’s very successful if the patient takes it every day for the rest of his or her life. Since it is so successful, the drug company that makes it increased its price.  According to the story, “the price of the drug tripled from $28,000.00 per year in 2001 to $92,000.00 in 2012” Can you imagine paying 20% of 92K ever years, if you were on Medicare?

Why do I mention Medicare?  It is not allowed to negotiate drug prices.  And it doesn’t look like our Congressional leaders are going to allow it to happen any time soon.  It seems a little strange that the “fiscal conservative” Republicans are against allowing such negotiations.   According to “Obama administration seeks to negotiate Medicare drug price” by David Morgan, mobile.reuters.com, February 2, 2015, “the budget plan projects a 30 percent rise in Part D drug benefits, from $63.3 billion this year to $82.5 billion in 2016”.

Mickey Lovingood is a Business Development Coordinator on our Healthcare Business Development Team. She has more than 15 years’ experience in customer relations and sales.

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