The TRUE Cost of Your Prescription Drugs!
Material Costs of Medical Compounds
Investigative Research Reveals the True Costs of Drugs
by Sharon Davis and Mary Palmer, US Department of Commerce, Federal Budget Analysts in Washington, D.C., 7-3-4
Did you ever wonder how much it costs a drug company for the active ingredient in prescription medications? Some people think it must cost a lot, since many drugs sell for more than $2.00 per tablet. We did a search of offshore chemical synthesizers that supply the active ingredients found in drugs approved by the FDA. As we have revealed in past issues of Life Extension, a significant percentage of drugs sold in the United State contain active ingredients made in other countries. In our independent investigation of how much profit drug companies really make, we obtained the actual price of active ingredients used in some of the most popular drugs sold in America.
The chart below speaks for itself.
Celebrex 100 mg:
Consumer price (100 tablets): $130.27
Cost of general active ingredients: $0.60
Percent markup: 21,712%
Claritin 10 mg
Consumer Price (100 tablets): $215.17
Cost of general active ingredients: $0.71
Percent markup: 30,306%
Keflex 250 mg
Consumer Price (100 tablets): $157.39
Cost of general active ingredients: $1.88
Percent markup: 8,372%
Lipitor 20 mg
Consumer Price (100 tablets): $272.37
Cost of general active ingredients: $5.80
Percent markup: 4,696%
Norvasec 10 mg
Consumer price (100 tablets): $188.29
Cost of general active ingredients: $0.14
Percent markup: 134,493%
Paxil 20 mg
Consumer price (100 tablets): $220.27
Cost of general active ingredients: $7.60
Percent markup: 2,898%
Prevacid 30 mg
Consumer price (100 tablets): $44.77
Cost of general active ingredients: $1.01
Percent markup: 34,136%
Prilosec 20 mg
Consumer price (100 tablets): $360.97
Cost of general active ingredients $0.52
Percent markup: 69,417%
Prozac 20 mg
Consumer price (100 tablets) : $247.47
Cost of general active ingredients: $0.11
Percent markup: 224,973%
Tenormin 50 mg
Consumer price (100 tablets): $104.47
Cost of general active ingredients: $0.13
Percent markup: 80,362%
Vasotec 10 mg
Consumer price (100 tablets): $102.37
Cost of general active ingredients: $0.20
Percent markup: 51,185%
Xanax 1 mg
Consumer price (100 tablets) : $136.79
Cost of general active ingredients: $0.024
Percent markup: 569,958%
Zestril 20 mg
Consumer price (100 tablets) $89.89
Cost of general active ingredients $3.20
Percent markup: 2,809%
Zithromax 600 mg
Consumer price (100 tablets): $1,482.19
Cost of general active ingredients: $18.78
Percent markup: 7,892%
Zocor 40 mg
Consumer price (100 tablets): $350.27
Cost of general active ingredients: $8.63
Percent markup: 4,059%
Zoloft 50 mg
Consumer price: $206.87
Cost of general active ingredients: $1.75
Percent markup: 11,821%
Since the cost of prescription drugs is so outrageous, I thought everyone I knew should know about this. Please read the following and pass it on. It pays to shop around. This helps to solve the mystery as to why they can afford to put a Walgreen's on every corner.
On Monday night, Steve Wilson, an investigative reporter for Channel 7 News in Detroit, did a story on generic drug price gouging by pharmacies. He found in his investigation, that some of these generic drugs were marked up as much as 3,000% or more. Yes, that's not a typo ... three thousand percent! So often, we blame the drug companies for the high cost of drugs, and usually rightfully so. But in this case, the fault clearly lies with the pharmacies themselves. For example, if you had to buy a prescription drug, and bought the name brand, you might pay $100 for 100 pills. The pharmacist might tell you that if you get the generic equivalent, they would only cost $80, making you think you are "saving" $20. What the pharmacist is not telling you is that those 100 generic pills may have only cost him $10!
At the end of the report, one of the anchors asked Mr. Wilson whether or not there were any pharmacies that did not adhere to this practice, and he said that Costco, Sam's Club and other discount volume stores consistently charged little over their cost for the generic drugs. I went to the the discount store's website, where you can look up any drug, and get its online price. It says that the in-store prices are consistent with the online prices. I was appalled. Just to give you one example from my own experience, I had to use the drug, Comparing, which helps prevent nausea in chemo patients. I used the generic equivalent, which cost $54.99 for 60 pills at CVS. I checked the price at Costco, and I could have bought 100 pills for $19..89. For 145 of my pain pills, I paid $72.57. I could have got 150 at another discount store for $28.08. I would like to mention, that although these are a "membership" type store, you do NOT have to be a member to buy prescriptions there, as it is a federally regulated substance. You just tell them at the door that you wish to use the pharmacy, and they will let you in. (This is true, I went there this past Thursday and asked them.)
First of all, drug companies will object to the above reasoning that their prices are justified due to their need to recuperate the astronomical costs incurred both by drug development and official approval of a drug. (Incidentally, this exorbitant financial barrier is also what blocks many natural remedies from being approved by the FDA - herbal and similar remedy producers simply cannot lay out the moneys involved in getting a remedy approved.) Still, pharmaceutical companies count among the most profitable businesses on the planet, see On Cancer Business and On Drugs.
Healing Cancer Naturally
$93,000 cancer drug: How much are a few months of life worth?
By Marilynn Marchione, The Associated Press
BOSTON — Cancer patients, brace yourselves. Many new drug treatments cost nearly $100,000 a year, sparking fresh debate about how much a few months more of life is worth. [How about if they are effective???]
The latest is Provenge, a first-of-a-kind therapy approved in April. It costs $93,000.00 and adds four months' survival, on average, for men with incurable prostate tumors. Bob Svensson is honest about why he got it: insurance paid. "I would not spend that money," because the benefit doesn't seem worth it, says Svensson, 80, a former corporate finance officer from Bedford, Mass.
His supplemental Medicare plan is paying while the government decides whether basic Medicare will cover Provenge and for whom. The tab for taxpayers could be huge — prostate is the most common cancer in American men. Most of those who have it will be eligible for Medicare, and Provenge will be an option for many late-stage cases. A meeting to consider Medicare coverage is set for Nov. 17. "I don't know how they're going to deal with that kind of issue," said Svensson, who was treated at the Lahey Clinic Medical Center in suburban Boston. "I feel very lucky."
For the last decade, new cancer-fighting drugs have been topping $5,000 a month. Only a few of these keep cancer in remission so long that they are, in effect, cures. For most people, the drugs may buy a few months or years. Insurers usually pay if Medicare pays. But some people have lifetime caps and more people are uninsured because of job layoffs in the recession. The nation's new health care law eliminates these lifetime limits for plans that were issued or renewed on Sept. 23 or later.
Celgene Corp's Revlimid pill for multiple myeloma, a type of blood cancer, can run as much as $10,000 a month; so can Genentech's Avastin for certain cancers. Now Dendreon Corp.'s Provenge rockets price into a new orbit.
Unlike drugs that people can try for a month or two and keep using only if they keep responding, Provenge is an all-or-nothing $93,000 gamble. It's a one-time treatment to train the immune system to fight prostate tumors, the first so-called "cancer vaccine." [This is utter madness because science doesn't even know the cause of cancer!].
It's also in short supply, forcing the first rationing of a cancer drug since Taxol and Taxotere were approved 15 years ago. At the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, doctors plan a modified lottery to decide which of its 150 or so eligible patients will be among the two a month it can treat with Provenge. An insurance pre-check is part of the process to ensure they financially qualify for treatment.
"I'm fearful that this will become a drug for people with more resources and less available for people with less resources," said M.D. Anderson's prostate cancer research chief, Dr. Christopher Logothetis.
For other patients on other drugs, money already is affecting care:
—Job losses have led some people to stop taking Gleevec, a $4,500-a-month drug by Novartis AG that keeps certain leukemias and stomach cancers in remission [but not cured?]. Three such cases were recently described in the New England Journal of Medicine, and all those patients suffered relapses.
—Retirements are being delayed to preserve insurance coverage of cancer drugs. Holly Reid, 58, an accountant in Novato, Calif., hoped to retire early until she tried cutting back on Gleevec and her cancer recurred. "I'm convinced now I have to take this drug for the rest of my life" and will have to work until eligible for Medicare, she said.
—Lifetime caps on insurance benefits are hitting many patients, and laws are being pushed in dozens of states to get wider coverage of cancer drugs. In Quincy, Mass., 30-year-old grad student Thea Showstack testified for one such law after pharmacists said her first cancer prescription exceeded her student insurance limit. "They said 'OK, that will be $1,900,'" she said. "I was absolutely panicked." The federal health care law forbids such caps on plans issued or renewed Sept. 23 or later.
—Tens of thousands of people are seeking help from drug companies and charities that provide free medicines or cover copays for low-income patients. Genentech's aid to patients has risen in each of the last three years and the company says nearly 85% of Americans earn less than $100,000, making them potentially eligible for help if no other programs like Medicaid will pay.
—Doctors and insurers increasingly are doing the cruel math that many cancer patients want to avoid, and questioning how much small improvements in survival are worth. A recent editorial in a medical journal asked whether the extra 11 weeks that Genentech's Herceptin buys for stomach cancer justified the $21,500 cost.
Doctors also have questioned the value of Genentech's Tarceva for pancreatic cancer. The $4,000-a-month drug won approval by boosting median survival by a mere 12 days. Here's how to think about this cost: People who added Tarceva to standard chemotherapy lived nearly 6 1/2 months, versus 6 months for those on chemo alone. So the Tarceva folks spent more than $24,000 to get those extra 12 days.
When is a drug considered cost-effective?
The most widely quoted figure is $50,000 for a year of life, "though it has been that for decades — never really adjusted — and not written in stone," said Dr. Harlan Krumholz, a Yale University expert on health care costs.
Many cancer drugs are way over that mark. Estimates of the cost of a year of life gained for lung cancer patients on Erbitux range from $300,000 to as much as $800,000, said Dr. Len Lichtenfeld, the American Cancer Society's deputy chief medical officer.
Higher costs seem to be more accepted for cancer treatment than for other illnesses, but there's no rule on how much is too much, [imagine if every business operated this way] he said. Insurers usually are the ones to decide, and they typically pay if Medicare pays. Medicare usually pays if the federal Food and Drug Administration has approved the use. [You'll pay out of pocket for natural therapies because the FDA only approves of drugs].
"Insurance sort of isolates you from the cost of health care," and if people lose coverage, they often discover they can't afford their medicines, said Dr. Alan Venook, a cancer specialist at the University of California, San Francisco. He wrote in the New England Journal in August about three of his patients who stopped taking or cut back on Gleevec because of economic hardship.
Two of the three now are getting the drug from its maker, Novartis AG, which like most pharmaceutical companies has a program for low-income patients. About 5,000 patients got help for Gleevec last year, said Novartis spokesman Geoffrey Cook. "We have seen a steady increase in requests over the past few years" as the economy worsened, he said. Showstack, whose leukemia was diagnosed last year, gets Gleevec from Novartis. The dose she's on now would cost $50,000 a year. "I'm not actually sure that I know anyone who could afford it," she said. Gleevec's cost is easier to justify, many say, because it keeps people alive indefinitely — a virtual cure. About 2,300 Americans died each year of Showstack's form of leukemia before Gleevec came on the market; only 470 did last year. [Is that a "virtual cure", when 1 out of 5 died?]
"I don't think we quibble with a drug that buys people magical [sic] quality of life for years," Venook said. It's unclear whether Provenge will ever do that — it needs to be tested in men with earlier stages of prostate cancer, doctors say. So far, it has only been tried and approved for men with incurable disease who have stopped responding to hormone therapy. On average, it gave them four months more, though for some it extended survival by a year or more.
Until it shows wider promise, enthusiasm will be tepid, said Dr. Elizabeth Plimack a prostate specialist at the Fox Chase Cancer Center in Philadelphia. "I've not had any patient ask for it," she said. "They ask about it. Based on the information, they think the cost is tremendous, and they think the benefit is very small."
Logothetis, at M.D. Anderson, said Provenge and other experimental cancer vaccines in development need "a national investment" to sort out their potential, starting with Medicare coverage.
"It's no longer a fringe science. This is working," [at least for "four months"! Honestly!] he said [with a straight face]. "We need to get it in the door so we can evolve it." [shouldn't it be evolved before it goes out of the door?]
NOTE: You will see, as usual, the health care debate is centered on who will pay, what's covered, and to a lesser extent the high cost of drugs (and surgery, the main focus of the article, but rarely whether Allopathic medicine has grown too expensive. Even less debated is legal reform Do you think natural medicine will be covered and promoted even though is far less expensive than mainstream medicine? No, you have to be a "made man" in the Medical Mafia. The most frightening aspect is being forced to purchase a product (insurance), which is unconstitutional, is increasing the power of the Federal government, and its favorite attack dog, the IRS. You will be required to include proof of medical insurance when filing your taxes. Lack of compliance will be result in a fine $700.00. If you don't pay the fine, your wages may be garnished or face going to prison. This untenable situation is fraught with irony because if offenders cannot afford insurance, how can they pay the fine? How many Americans will become indebtors or criminals and join the ranks of cheap penal labor? This is really about controlling people. After Hitler nationalized education (and removed religion, replacing the cross with a Swastica) in Austria, the next thing he did was completely take over health care. People rushed to see doctors for minor complaints and the truly infirmed suffered. People think they are going to get something for free.
And lest we forget......most if not all of those drug studies that show these highly expensive drugs add even a few days or months to life------are financed and sponsored by the drug companies that will profit from their use. These are not independent double blind studies which make them more reliable. Can we say biased and skewed studies sponsored by those who will profit. A few million dollars put into INDEPENDENT research may save billions. But the lobbying power of the drug companies and money given to senators and representatives by them could also be a factor.....
Luckly we will have Obamacare where everyone gets quality healthcare no matter what and our premiums will never go up. Even when we start to ensure those 48 million people that are out of work and the other 25 million that choose not t to have insurance and like to pay cash. And people wonder why 55% of European countries debt is Healthcare cost. lol! we are all so screwed.
If my husband's employer drops coverage altogether, we will have to go on ObamaCare. There are already a limited number of doctors in a 50-mile radius of where I live that will take Medicare. Some doctors have dropped insurance subscribers altogether in my area and have moved to concierge care. Doctors are not being forced to accept ObamaCare. They can do whatever they want to do. In the end, the only people who will get quality healthcare are going to be the ones who can self-insure, i.e. pay out of pocket for it. Based on what I have seen with Medicare (both my mother-in-law and my father were on it, and I had a very difficult time trying to find a doctor that would accept it), I can only assume that the difficulty in finding a doctor that will accept ObamaCare is going to be difficult as well.
In my current job I will never cease to be amazed at the number of elderly frail people who insist on being treated with chemo/radiation for their cancer. I have seen some on oxygen with feeding tubes who cannot even walk anymore going through chemo treatment. For what? Like this treatment will restore them to their youthful vigor?
NO-ONE has the right to make that call for anyone else!
Wrong - When it is my tax money that is paying the bill, the taxpayer has the right to determine if a treatment is worth paying for. I do not want to spend 100k of my taxes to pay for 3 weeks of life. That money could pay two teacher's salaries, or feed 20,000 people for a year. If you want this treatment, then pay for it out of pocket or find a insurance company to pay for it. However do not expect the American taxpayer to pay for it.
The bill will impose a financial hardship on middle class Americans who will be forced to buy a product that they can’t afford to use.A family of four making $66,370 will be forced to pay $5,243 per year for insurance. After basic necessities, this leaves them with $8,307 in discretionary income ? out of which they would have to cover clothing, credit card and other debt, child care and education costs, in addition to $5,882 in annual out-of-pocket medical expenses for which families will be responsible.
I think the point is the bill attempts to force people into insurance policies that are too expensive or inappropriate for their individual situations. I am a classic case. I need a high deductible policy as I will pay minor expenses out of pocket. Obama attempts to force me to buy a policy that costs 4 times as much with coverage I don't need. Not only is this unamerican and an affront to the principals in the declaration of independence it also makes care more expensive by encouraging people to consume more . If i have to buy a $17,000 a year policy you bet I will use it for every minor issue since I have to pay for it anyway. The entire thing is a boondoggle from both an ethical and practical perspective.
Without getting too personal, can you give me an example of what kind of insurance you will be forced to pay and how much it cost? Also, what would (do) you do without the new HC bill?
So the CBO came out with a figure that as I recall was about $1400 a month on average. You can find their estimate by googling. I have posted it here before. Right now I am paying a bit over $300 a month for a high deductible family policy. If the kids get the flu I pay out of pocket. If we get in a car wreck the catastrophic stuff is covered. Right now I am self employed. I quit my job to pursue a startup. I have savings to afford a one time hit. I cannot afford the almost 20k a year I would have to cough up under Obama's plan.
A treatment like this, with it's high cost and low longevity rate, should have never been brought to market at this time. But the drug company knew someone would be stupid enough to approve it (the FDA) and someone else would be stupid enough pay for it, and they were right - the U.S. Government Medicare plan.
And we're expected to trust these people with the National health care plan??
Medical payments make up 18% of total GDP (2007, probably 20% now). 30-40% of these payments are spent on people who live less than one year. Not a great return on investment, so to speak.
I grew up as a military dependent. Yes, the healthcare was free, but if you've ever been a military dependent, you also know that you are treated more like cattle than you are like a person. I had four impacted wisdom teeth that they were kind enough to dig out while I was wide awake. If you have private insurance, you can find another doctor if you don't like the one you are seeing. If government facilities become the model for our new and improved healthcare, I believe it's going to be pretty similar to what I experienced on the military base. It's either use the provider they've picked for me, or I don't get treatment.