It IS about the money — drug companies increase prices at 5-10 times inflation

Amazing but true, with the economy in the dumps, unemployment remaining in the 10% range with huge numbers of people uninsured and unable to afford care our pharmaceutical industry raises prices. Their increase is not at the  rate of inflation or even near it,  but rather approaching 5-10 times that rate.  This is the “free market” runing amok.

According to MarketScan, payments for Pfizer Inc’s Lipitor rose 11.4 percent last year, compared with 5 percent annually from 2005 to 2010. That meant the cost of a daily dose of the cholesterol drug rose from $3.17 at the end of 2009 to $3.53 at the end of 2010. Lipitor, which will soon lose patent protection, had 2010 global sales of $10.7 billion.

Drugs with price rises in the mid teens included: cholesterol drug Crestor made by AstraZeneca Inc; blood-clot preventer Plavix sold by Bristol Myers Squibb Co and Sanofi-Aventis; and asthma treatment Singulair, from Merck & Co.

AstraZeneca’s antipsychotic drug Seroquel topped the list with a 16.5 percent price jump, according to MarketScan data, which is particularly telling since it comes from actual payments by insurers, rather than manufacturer list prices.

Medicynical Note:  If the drugs are effective the companies are saying pay us or die.  If these drugs are marginally effective or no better than generics (true of some of the drugs) we are experiencing a scam powered by advertising and collusion with suppliers and providers.

Drug manufacturers claim they need the increases to “develop” new drugs.  In reality they spend more on advertising and marketing than research and have higher profits and profit margins than the great majority of Fortune 500 firms.  Raising prices is gilding their lily.  Efficiency and value, not their department.

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