Daraprim – a drug indicated for the treatment of an opportunisitic infection that may effect AIDS and cancer patients – has had a price increase: 5000%, that’s 5000%!! Each pill had been $13.50 and now each one costs $750. Supposedly, the profits are slated for research of a new, more effective drug for the same indication: toxoplasmosis. How can anyone possibly get their head around such an enormous price increase of a medication, the price of each pill notwithstanding. No one can. Fortunately, the public outcry – so loud and clear – pressured the CEO to reduce the price.
From years of experience working in the pharmaceutical industry, I can tell you that research is expensive. Extremely expensive. Many drugs go through years of research easily costing millions of dollars. They appear to be very promising in the “pipeline,” but the data often proves they simply don’t improve the health or survival of patients. It’s just one more disappointment to researchers, physicians and most importantly, to patients.
Although the above occurs time and time again, a “blockbuster drug” comes along recovering all the money invested in failed drugs plus so much more. It doesn’t always happen, but when it does, the profits are staggering and often far out of proportion to prior research costs. Therein lies the problem – the costs of the new drug and the previous research costs are passed along to patients. And, when your doctor tells you there’s a new drug available that may help you get well, are you going to reject it even though you know it’s way too expensive? Obviously, some people won’t take the drug because they simply cannot afford it. That’s when it’s best to ask for help from foundations. Please have a look at a prior blog of mine. (https://reinaweiner.com/2015/09/02/finding-money-for-expensive-drugs/)
So, where is this discussion going? To what I’ve been emphasizing all along: You must speak up for yourself in any medical facility. Ask your healthcare provider if there are any other drugs that are as effective and cost less. A generic? A different product that may work as well? Complementary therapy?
Keep asking until you find an answer that works for you. And for heaven’s sake, start talking to other people about how expensive this drug is, particularly your healthcare provider who often doesn’t have the faintest idea how much a drug costs when they prescribe it. Our doctor’s mouth dropped open when we told him the cost of a drug he had prescribed!! Plus, be sure to ask your pharmacist the price of a drug before filling your prescription. If you can, also check with your insurance company to find out what your co-pay is. The prescribed drug is too expensive? Call your doctor, tell him/her the price and ask if another drug may be substituted. It does take time and effort, but you will be saving yourself money, making your voice heard and potentially affect change in prescribing habits and drug prices.
If enough doctors stop prescribing a drug due to cost, you can be assured the pharmaceutical company will notice the drop in prescriptions and be asking why. With your help, the doctor will be able to tell the pharmaceutical manufacturer their drug is way too expensive and that’s why they’re not writing for it. The goal is to create awareness and lower drug prices. Get involved, speak up, and receive a therapy that advances your health without causing you to go bankrupt in the process.