“U.S. taxpayers and Medicare patients could have saved almost $15 billion in 2007 if private health insurers had cut expenses for prescription drug coverage and negotiated bigger discounts,” according to a newly released (Democratic) government report. [Reuters]

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  1. JKinNYC says:

    DUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUH.

  2. Trai_Dep says:

    Gee, Thanks, Republican Congress and President Bush!

    with hugs & kisses,

    Big Pharma

  3. Bobg says:

    I had stents put in last year. I have 5 prescriptions that were costing $1007 a month. I raised hell with the doctor and he prescribed generics. I now pay $20 a month. ConsumerReports Magazine wrote that 85% of the drugs approved last year were “me-too” drugs that did what existing generics did; naturally the drug companies can charge much more for the “new” drug. Thank your local drug salesman for the high prices of drugs. As an aside-my next door neighbor found out about the clinical trials that showed that 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon a day lowered cholesterol 25%. He started taking cinnamon and when he went to the doctor, the doctor wanted to have new blood work done because he couldn’t believe that the man’s cholesterol had really dropped that much. I’m now trying the cinnamon cure myself.

  4. Hambriq says:

    While I appreciate the fact that BobG is aware of how much his prescriptions cost, but sometimes you can take it a little bit too far. For example, there’s a far higher chance that BobG will have GI bleed and die from an ulcer if he decides to take aspirin daily instead of the far more expensive Plavix. Does this mean you should always go with the more expensive drug? Definitely not. But you can’t fault the doctor for prescribing the best available drug.

    The most appropriate course of action would have been for the doctor to discuss the price of the medication with you before prescribing it. At that point, he can discuss the risks involved (if any) of taking less expensive medications, and whether or not you want that risk is worth the lowered monthly costs.

    As for the “cinnamon cure”, I just have to shrug my shoulders and roll my eyes. If cinnamon were really the miracle cure, doctors would prescribe that instead of a statin. If it works for you, great. But don’t think for a second that homeopathic remedies are above the taint of money. If you take a look through any number of “Natural Health” style magazines, you’ll see just as many advertisements for “natural remedies” that are just as expensive as the pharmaceutical remedies being pushed by “Big Pharma”.

    Just because something is a “natural” cure doesn’t make it above the influence of the almighty dollar.

  5. Elvisisdead says:

    The view tha the local drug rep is the source of drug pricing is either very simplistic or ignorant.

    It’s a vicious cycle. The patent period on any drug is relatively short. It’s also started from the time the drug is discovered, not put on the market. So, essentially, a drug company only has 4-5 years to recoup all of the expenses that it put into the product before it goes generic and anyone can make it. That short patent period also ensures that generics get to the market as rapidly as possible.

    If you stretched the patent period, the drugs would cost less, but it would take longer for the generics to hit the market.

    The short patent period also is stifling research into drugs. A process to manufacture a drug is patented for 25 years. Many drug companies are concentrating more on processes than drugs because they are profitable for longer.

    Shame on your doc for not prescribing the generics and your pharmacist for not calling the doc on your behalf to request them. You need to get new ones of both.

  6. Hambriq says:

    @Elvisisdead: “Shame on your doc for not prescribing the generics and your pharmacist for not calling the doc on your behalf to request them. You need to get new ones of both.”

    Ehh. While a good pharmacist would discuss this with you, I can speak from personal experience when I say that more often than not, patients are very reluctant to change their medications. If someone asks me if there are other options available for a lower copay, or expresses concern at their monthly bill, I will certainly give advice and suggest how they can lower their copays. But unless a medicine strikes me as totally unnecessary, rarely will I give unsolicited advice regarding the price of their prescriptions.

    As for the doctor, as I mentioned in my earlier post, you can’t really fault him for prescribing the best medication available. BobG mentioned that he had stents put in; Plavix is the go-to therapy after a stent. Why? Because it’s effective and has a low incidence of side effects. It’s expensive, yes. But a GI bleed is even more expensive, and that’s one of the side effects that you risk by going with the cheaper alternative of aspirin.

    Again, the appropriate thing to do would be to discuss the potential risks and costs of each course of medicine with the patient and let them have input in the decision. However, I would never go so far as to say “shame on your doc” for not doing that.

  7. Bobg says:

    Wow! I’m really being taken to task for my post. First, I did take Plavix for a year, during that time my doctor started me taking a full aspirin each day but every time I nicked myself shaving I bled for an hour. I was then told to take low-dose aspirin (which I still take.) My doctor admitted to me that the generics would do the same thing. As for the cinnamon; there have been two clinical trials on this. The one that I read had 25% reduction in Cholesterol and the effects of the cinnamon lasted for 20 days after the last dose of the spice.

  8. Hambriq says:

    Meh. The intention wasn’t to “take you to task”, rather, it’s to encourage people to consider both sides of the issue before leaping to judgment. For you, the less expensive generics are obviously the right choice. But that’s not necessarily the case for everyone. Both patients and doctors need to be more aware of the price of the medicine they are taking or prescribing, respectively, and I don’t think this lack of initiative should be blamed on the pharmaceutical companies.