The Game of Health Care — Another Great Moment in Medicine

I can recall a MAD Magazine illustration series (drawn by Kelly Freas) called “Great Moments in Medicine.” It was a parody of one of the “ethical” pharmaceutical company’s ad campaigns. Except in the MAD magazine case the great moment was presenting the bill.

In today’s Times there is another great moment.   Drug companies distributing coupons to decrease co-pays on their expensive drugs so as  to increase their  use rather than equally effective less expensive generics. With the coupon the patient’s out of pocket expense was the same. but for  insurers the cost was many times more. Guess who pays for this with increased insurance premiums?

Drug companies say the plans help some patients afford medicines that they otherwise could not.

But health insurers and some consumer groups say that in many cases, the coupons are just marketing gimmicks that are leading to an overall increase in health care costs. That is because they circumvent the system of higher co-pays on costlier drugs that insurers use to encourage consumers to use less expensive products.

One example was a one a day patented formulation of the generic drug minocycline:

A month’s supply of Solodyn sells for more than $700 on, compared with about $40 a month for capsules of generic minocycline, which are generally taken twice a day.

Almost 20 times the cost.

Medicynical Note: Is it any wonder that our non-system of health care is bankrupting us?

Suppliers (and insurers at times) game the system to maximize profits. Patient care? Cost efficiency? Not our department.


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