Friday, August 21, 2009

more on health care: drug company edition

(tomato in my garden)

Time and again, men and women of faith have shown what is possible when we are guided by our hope and not our fear.

~ President Barack Obama ~

And right after we change the way health insurance companies operate, let's start on the drug companies. How do you spell greed? I spell it p-h-a-r-m-a.

Now don't get me wrong. I understand the costs involved in doing research and development and some medications truly are life savers. For that I am grateful.

A few of the practices, however...let's just say I have a problem with how Big Pharma operates:

1) They, like the insurance industry, push through legislation that keeps their profits up and accessibility down.

2) If a natural vitamin form is part of a pharmaceutical study before it is sold as a natural vitamin supplement, that vitamin cannot then be sold in its natural form as a vitamin. [See #1.]

3) Natural products (vitamins, herbs, etc.) must be changed from their natural form in order to be patented. Without a patent, the drug companies cannot make money. [See #1 and #2 above.]

4) They get to charge whatever they want for their drugs:

Example #1: One medication I am using was produced by two manufacturers--one in China and one in the US. The Chinese product was substandard. Unfortunately, a number of people died because of the impurities in their medication. Fortunately, mine was from the US manufacturer.

When they shut down the Chinese production (as they should have--or perhaps they should have used better oversight from the beginning and not tried to cut so many corners in order to increase profits?) the US company was overloaded with orders and my prescription was delayed until they could catch up with production. Eventually they did. In my case, the delay was not life threatening--perhaps not so for others.

Now here is the kicker--I have used this medication for about a year and a half. Since the Chinese operation shut down (and now there is only ONE manufacturer) the cost increased 500%. In other words, it now costs 6 times what my original prescription cost. (I am one of the fortunates who has health insurance to cover it.)


Example #2: Another medication I take has been around for decades. Many years, I tell you! When I tell medical people what I am using, they say, "Oh, good. That is an inexpensive one." Because they know how long it has been around and how much it costs to produce it. Ha! Not so.

One month's supply costs nearly $1,000 out of pocket. Again, I am fortunate to have insurance that will cover it--AND I am fortunate that this medication is one that my insurance will cover. (Just because someone has insurance doesn't mean that their insurance company will cover the cost. Insurance companies get to choose whether they will pay for a medication--oh, yes, they do.)

Too many people go without medication because they can't afford them. Too many people who don't have insurance don't get to use the natural equivalent because drug companies have blocked access. (Don't even get me started on the FDA. It is not about consumer protection.)

The driving force is greed. I know that businesses need to make a profit to stay in business. I have no problem with that. I am a business owner. I need to make a profit. However, profit comes way before greed. Here--Big Pharma crosses the line.

This is just wrong.

5 comments:

Carrie Wilson Link said...

Agreed.

Susan O'Neil said...

Right on sister!
How about this for evil genius: I have a 10/20/40 plan. I pay 10$ for generic; 20$ for PREFERRED brand; 40$ for non preferred and non formulary. Sounds simple, right? Wait, here's where the evil genius part comes in. Once a preferred brand has a generic equivalent, if I do NOT take the generic and I CHOOSE the brand, even if my doctor SPECIFIES the brand, I have to pay 40$ PLUS the price difference between the generic and the brand.
Now, I have a college degree and I think I can reasonably follow directions (most days, ok maybe not most days but that day I could, honest), but I had to have the women repeat this to me TWICE before I got it. So I don't REALLY have a 10/20/40 plan I say, truthfully in total awe of the evil genius of it, and she says, no, yes, yes, you do maam, you have blah blah blah. So now a one month scrip of armour, the oldest thyroid med out there is 47$ instead of 20$ because I don't want to take the generic, which nobody seems to carry anymore either.
And don't even get me started on compounds!

beth said...

you can borrow my sign if you want....there were lots of men asking me if I was their driver...hee hee

Wanda said...

Susan,

Have you looked into buying Armour out of pocket? It should even be less than $20! Perhaps if you call a pharmacy for price and tell them that you don't want to bill insurance, they will give you a decent price quote.

Susan O'Neil said...

Yeah, I got a 6 month supply at Costco so it ended up being even less than the 20$copay i was paying before. Also recently found out there are massage shortages of armour nationwide. the naturopath suggests nature-throid which may even be a little less.thanks.