[EDITORIAL NOTE: The TGB Geriatrician is a bi-weekly column written by Dr. Bill Thomas (bio) for Time Goes By to give us the information we need to help us navigate the health issues of aging. Dr. Thomas also writes his own blog at Changing Aging.]
“Drug companies are quietly pushing through price hikes of 100 percent or even more than 1,000 percent for a very small but growing number of prescription drugs, helping to drive up costs for insurers, patients and government programs.
“The number of brand-name drugs with increases of 100 percent or more could double this year from four years ago, researchers from the University of Minnesota say. Many of the drugs are older products that treat fairly rare, but often serious or even life-threatening, conditions.
“Among the examples: Questcor Pharmaceuticals last August raised the wholesale price on Acthar, which treats spasms in babies, from about $1,650 a vial to more than $23,000. Ovation raised the cost of Cosmegen, which treats a type of tumor, from $16.79 to $593.75 in January 2006.
“The average wholesale price of 26 brand-name drugs jumped 100 percent or more in a single cost adjustment last year, up from 15 in 2004, the university study found. In the first half of this year, 17 drugs made the list.”
- USA Today, 8 August 2008
It is not a "free market" when producers can arbitrarily push through price increases at will for products people need to survive, and nothing can be done to stop them. Where is the pressure to lower prices?
By some bizarre logic, we are expected to accept the "workings of capitalism" when companies raise prices by 100 percent, and we are supposed to object to our government acting to bring prices down by increasing competition.
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[At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Susan Fisher tells us how she learned the kid-friendly explanation for thunder The Angels are Bowling.]