Did you know that the cost of dozens of prescription medications has doubled since 2007? The rising cost of prescription drugs is a frightening thought, isn’t it? With many cancer drugs exceeding a cost of more than $10,000 per month and one cystic fibrosis medication costing over $300,000 per year, you might be happy if you don’t need those medications. However, more commonly-prescribed medications for everyday ailments have also increased in price significantly over the last few years.
Why Prices Are So High
You might wonder why drug prices are going up so drastically. After all, these aren’t necessarily new drugs and they haven’t made improvements to them. They are the same old drugs you’ve been taking for years. Take a drug like Lipitor, which is prescribed to help treat high cholesterol. Lipitor prices have climbed considerably over the past few years, even though the drug itself has not changed. Even the price of generic drugs is climbing. For instance, in 2013 antibiotic Doxycycline prices increased, as did blood pressure medication Irbesartan prices. Even cancer drug Gleevec prices have increased, despite the fact that it is among the most competitively priced on the market.
There are a number of reasons why drug prices continue to climb. Probably the biggest of these is the loss of patent protection on many drugs that have been on the market for a long time. As the patents expire, generic equivalents flood the market and the drug companies increase prices to make up for the loss in sales. In addition, there have been many acquisitions in the pharmaceutical industry, meaning fewer companies selling drugs and creating less competition. As we know, a lack of competition drives prices up.
Even New Medications are Becoming More Pricey
The customers of the pharmaceutical industry are not the patients or the physicians. Instead, the customers are the government and the insurance companies. Because they have the money to pay higher prices, pharmaceutical companies charge higher prices, far higher than individuals can afford. In addition, prescription drugs are considered to be “price inelastic,” which is a fancy way of saying that the price can go up, but the sales will not go down because the drug is needed and there is no alternative.
What Can Patients Do?
The rising cost of prescription drugs is vast and difficult to navigate, particularly for the patient that does not have a high income or adequate insurance coverage. Fortunately, there are some ways patients can get around the increasing drug costs. Taking advantage of accredited online pharmacies, such as www.eDrugSearch.com, can save you considerable money on your prescription drugs. Unfortunately, not all specialized drugs are available online. The Federal Drug Administration offers the following options to help save money on prescription medications:
- Taking the generic version of the drug
- Discussing options with your doctor
- Using Medicare Prescription Drug Coverage
- Compare drug prices between the U.S. and Canada
- Taking advantage of generic price differences between the U.S. and Canada
- Getting help from the pharmaceutical companies
This last one, help from a pharmaceutical company, might be a surprise to you. However, many pharmaceutical companies offer assistance to low-income patients. This assistance comes in the form of a discount drug card or Prescription Assistance Programs (PAPs), which allows low-income people to get their medication for free or at a very low cost. So rejoice in the fact that you can get around the high cost of prescription drugs much of the time, once you know your options.