Specialty medications aren’t the only ones that you can expect to pay high prices for anymore. Even commonly prescribed drugs, like infection-fighting antibiotics, are seeing hefty price increases. Here’s what’s behind the price hikes, and what you can do about them.
Reasons for the increases According to Harvard Health Publications, from Harvard Medical School, there are many contributing factors as to why we’re seeing a rise in the price of medications.
Take the case of a drug called Daraprim, used to treat parasitic infections caused by toxoplasmosis. There’s a small market for the drug, without much competition. The price was stable for years. But when a new drug company acquired the drug, it raised the price 5,000%, from $13.50 to $750/pill. Why? Because it lacks the competition needed to drive the price down. Supply/demand A shortage of Doxycycline (an antibiotic) in 2011, due to quality concerns in a plant used in the composition of the drug, resulted in a 6,000% increase in the cost. The price for this somewhat common medication went from six cents to $3.36/pill. As with any consumer item, when there is a shortage in the product, the price increases. Price spiking
Defined as a sudden increase in a drug’s price for a specific period of time, price spikes are not an uncommon practice. As long as drug companies are not collectively conspiring to raise prices, there is nothing illegal about this.
Unfortunately, generic medications used to be the lower-cost alternative to prescription drugs, but that isn’t always the case any longer. In fact, generic prices have actually increased, too. Recently, almost 400 generic medications have seen price increases of more than 1,000%, according to an AARP report. Some experts blame regulatory changes associated with the Affordable Care Act, since drug companies drive up prices when they’re concerned about the effect of regulations. Even pharmacists are often surprised and taken off-guard by the sudden spikes. In many cases, the cost of prescription drugs has outstripped inflation.
All of these causes together are responsible for the price increases that have a major effect on consumers. Consumers pay for about 18% of prescription drugs out-of-pocket, and when the costs rise, that’s a financial burden and an overall health concern on a national level. In fact, approximately 25% of prescriptions are not even filled due to cost. Ways to save So, how can you, the consumer, save money on your prescription drugs? Don’t worry, there are ways!
While drug prices might be on the increase, there are steps you can take to manage the costs – stay informed, compare prices, and don’t forget to use your FamilyWize card (or app) to help save on a regular basis.
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