Drugs That Were Once Cheap but Are Now Expensive Is Pissing Me Off

An Irish drugmaker, Horizon, increased the price of their painkiller, Vimovo, to nearly $3,000 a bottle, which is 22 times more expensive than when the company acquired it in late 2013.  The two main ingredients can be purchased separately — for just $36. More from this article:

A spokesman for Dublin-based Horizon said that the $2,979 wholesale price does not reflect “the cost to patients or the cost to the system.” The company said it has programs to ensure that commercially-insured patients have access “at an affordable price” — even if the patient’s insurance refuses to cover the cost. Horizon estimates that 98% of all insured Vimovo patients pay $10 or less out of pocket.

A few things here.  Why is there no REAL competition to bring prices down?  I have seen this with cheap drugs (steroid creams, epinephrine, some anti-parasite meds, inhalers, etc) and it is driving me nuts. And don’t give some lame response that the government should control healthcare system to bring prices down.  Yeah, how is that working for Medicare?  They can’t even negotiate the prices down for them.

Second, why do the “insured” patients get a break and not the cash paying ones?  I have always hated this.  They are not second-class citizens. Why are they discriminated against?

There is so much wrong with our system that has NOTHING to do with “free market” principles.  I am not an economist nor am I a lawyer but this gouging, colluding, and monopolizing is disgusting and needs to stop.

What are your thoughts on this?

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Douglas Farrago MD

Douglas Farrago MD is a full-time practicing family doc in Forest, Va. He started Forest Direct Primary Care where he takes no insurance and bills patients a monthly fee. He is board certified in the specialty of Family Practice. He is the inventor of a product called the Knee Saver which is currently in the Baseball Hall of Fame. The Knee Saver and its knock-offs are worn by many major league baseball catchers. He is also the inventor of the CryoHelmet used by athletes for head injuries as well as migraine sufferers. Dr. Farrago is the author of four books, two of which are the top two most popular DPC books. From 2001 – 2011, Dr. Farrago was the editor and creator of the Placebo Journal which ran for 10 full years. Described as the Mad Magazine for doctors, he and the Placebo Journal were featured in the Washington Post, US News and World Report, the AP, and the NY Times. Dr. Farrago is also the editor of the blog Authentic Medicine which was born out of concern about where the direction of healthcare is heading and the belief that the wrong people are in charge. This blog has been going daily for more than 15 years Article about Dr. Farrago in Doximity Email Dr. Farrago – [email protected] 

  14 comments for “Drugs That Were Once Cheap but Are Now Expensive Is Pissing Me Off

  1. John A Goldman
    March 3, 2018 at 9:17 am

    Electronic health records are causing physician burnout. Usually in science innovation leads to implementation. In this case the implementation was used without the science yet the stupid government and the stupid AMA policy continued to push for electronic health records Now the AMA has a two year program to study this. What a joke

  2. Steve O'
    March 1, 2018 at 4:43 pm

    Amoxicillin. It’s not how much it cost, it’s that Walgreens was out in a ten mile radius around my house.
    A rural pharmacy in Bolivia will have amoxicillin. At least they would be embarrassed about running out.

  3. Chris
    March 1, 2018 at 9:02 am

    If you want to have your head blow off, check out the current retail price for hydrocortisone suppositories. I think they are something like $10 each at our pharmacies here. I have, only half-joking, thought about setting up a suppository factory in my kitchen

    • Perry
      March 1, 2018 at 9:42 am

      Boy talk about taking up the a–!

  4. Brian W. Joseph, M.D.
    February 28, 2018 at 10:28 pm

    My pet peeve is price of Xyrem. People used to make sodium oxybate in their homes & sell it for $5 to $10 per dose. Last I checked the drug company that has the monopoly (thanks to our wise government) charged $6,000 for a 30 day supply.

  5. Jennifer Hollywood
    February 28, 2018 at 1:29 pm

    The discounts are not about the insured patients getting it cheap and cash patients paying a lot. The discounts are about the drug company making a lot of money. The drug companies make deals with PBMs to skim off the system. Example: Drug costs $1000 at pharmacy. PBM arranges to have the insurer pay the PBM $1200 and the patient pays $10. The Drug company get their $1000 ($10 from patient and $990 from PBM) and the PBM keeps the difference. Patient is happy as they got the drug for $10. PBM happy as they made money doing nothing. Drug company happy as they actually got their $1000. Insurance company out $1200 and just increase premiums again. The patient is not even aware that this is one of the reasons health insurance prices are rising.

    • RSW
      February 28, 2018 at 2:00 pm

      Actually, insurance company is very happy too because most of their contracts are cost plus basis, and they would rather get 3% of 1200 than 3% of 100.

  6. Chris
    February 28, 2018 at 9:49 am

    This is really insane. I’ve had drug reps actually try to promote this drug to me and I tell them to stop wasting their breath. Why in the world would anyone ever prescribe this medication to someone? The FDA is totally corrupt and shares culpability for this insanity by giving out brand-name status for these kind of meds…both of the components of this medication are not only available generic but OTC! But they’ve done worse; at least the components are still available to prescribe. Remember a few years ago when the FDA made colchicine brand-name-only again? I want to know whose pockets got lined for that one. And don’t even get me started on the shenanigans that resulted in getting Bextra removed from the market!

    • Sir Lance-a-lot
      February 28, 2018 at 1:47 pm

      Don’t even get me started on colchicine.

      I actually got their (Takeda’s) rep banned from our practice for arguing with me about whether their grab was immoral, unethical, and against every principle of Medicine.

      Pricks.

      • David Grant
        March 3, 2018 at 9:06 am

        For what it’s worth, remember that generic colchicine plus probenecid is still available at a non-astronomical price. The pills have 0.5mg of colchicine and 500mg of probenecid; the pill with colchicine alone is 0.6mg.
        They say you can make a gout attack worse by starting medicine to lower uric acid levels during the attack. I’ve never understood why that should happen, but I’ve never tried it.

  7. ben
    February 28, 2018 at 9:08 am

    This is so idiotic. I remember when the drug rep came by when vimovo first went on the market. I told her I would never write the prescription unless the cost was less than the separate medications. A combo pill is bad enough, but this is a combo pill for 2 over the counter medications. The only reason it is prescription instead of over the counter is so they can price gouge.

  8. Perry
    February 28, 2018 at 9:07 am

    What’s really insane is the crush being placed on physicians for payments when these drug companies and hospitals are making out like bandits.
    Personally for pain, I will now use Irish Whiskey. It’s much cheaper.

  9. RSW
    February 28, 2018 at 8:45 am

    Off topic:

    Did you catch the major industrial strength WHINE from the AAFP Board Chair about how bad his certified EMR is?

    Justice is sweet.

    • Max
      February 28, 2018 at 7:32 pm

      No where can I find it

Comments are closed.