CVS, Walgreens Drop Tamiflu Prices After AG Sends Nasty Letter

Are CVS and Walgreens price gouging on liquid Tamiflu? The attorney general of Connecticut’s office says the AG, Richard Blumenthal, has “received information suggesting that some pharmacies have charged substantially increased out-of-pocket prices for Tamiflu, in some cases as high as $130 or more. He has also heard that some retailers may be purchasing capsules of higher-dosage Tamiflu from distributors and remarketing it as liquid-form lower dosages at greatly inflated prices.”

On Nov. 23, the AG’s office sent letters to CVS Caremark Corporation, Rite Aid Corporation and Walgreen Co. demanding information about their Tamiflu prices from before the flu outbreak. Mysteriously, USAToday is reporting that Walgreens has suddenly dropped its liquid Tamiflu prices by nearly 20% and CVS nearly 10%.

The AG says:

“I will aggressively pursue enforcement action against any company or individual exploiting the current H1N1 flu pandemic or the Tamiflu shortage through price-gouging or other abusive practices,” Blumenthal said.

“Tamiflu price gouging gut punches families economically and medically. Price abuses threaten both public health and consumer pocketbooks as families struggle with economic hardship and inadequate insurance. Such conduct damages all consumers, but especially flu victims with no or limited prescription drug coverage, as well as children and others at higher risk.

“Feverish full-throttle greed is the only explanation and no justification for such price abuses. Such abuses reflect a sickness — an ethical ailment in need of treatment.”

In any case, if your pharmacy is out of liquid Tamiflu, you can actually make it at home.

Attorney General Seeks Tamiflu Pricing Policies From Major Pharmacies [AG CT]
Amid probe, pharmacies cut back on liquid Tamiflu price [USAToday]

Comments

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  1. Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

    Nationalized health care anyone?

    • TVarmy says:

      Yeah! How dare those uninsured jerks throw their weight around to get the drug stores to lower prices? I thought this was America, where the uninsured get sick, go without medication, and LIKE IT.

      ARE WE IN PRAUGE?

  2. srh says:

    “In any case, if your pharmacy is out of liquid Tamiflu, you can actually make it at home.”

    If your pharmacy is out of liquid Tamiflu, perhaps they should have charged a market price for it.

    • jamar0303 says:

      Or, y’know, the makers should have ramped up production accordingly. We’re in the middle of an epidemic of a new strain of flu, after all.

  3. dragonfire81 says:

    I am not surprised in the least with the tamiflu price gouging. When the opportunity is there, someone is bound to take it. This is a golden example of corporate america at its “best”

  4. Esquire99 says:

    I think it’s interesting that the CT AG doesn’t cite any laws that he thinks they are breaking, he just claims the companies are ethically deficient. It’s simply supply and demand. CVS, Walgreens, etc. will price the vaccine at whatever price they can sell it for, as they should.

    • Tim says:

      a) It’s not a vaccine, it’s an antiviral. Major difference.

      b) Why should people’s health, well-being and lives be subject to “supply and demand”? Oh, sorry Johnny, the pharmacy decided that there isn’t enough demand in the world for your life. Bye!

  5. CompyPaq says:

    I’m suprised anyone even bothers with Tamiflu. It is very overpriced with little to no benefit.

  6. EricBetts says:

    If H1N1 were classified as a civil emergency, they could be accused of http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Price_gouging

  7. r081984 says:

    Why are people so obssessed with tamiflu???
    It only reduces your flu by 0.5–1 days.
    You are supposed to take it twice a day for 5 days.

    It really is not worth it, but it is obvious drug company marketing has tricked stupid people into buying it.

    • TVarmy says:

      The reduced severity and time of illness are significant for people likely to die or develop a chronic illness from the flu. True, maybe not everyone who is on Tamiflu should be on it, but let’s not knock the drug completely for it.

      • r081984 says:

        Aleve, Tylenol, Vicks, and plenty of other companies make flu medicine that works just as well.
        Tamiflu is just the new, patented, drug that companies are pushing on consumers and paying doctors to prescribe to make a lot of money for them.

        Hepatitis is listed as a side effect of tamiflu.

        It is not worth it.

  8. H3ion says:

    So where’s Cuomo? CVS et al are national chains. Lowering the price in Connecticut is cold comfort to a family in Kansas.

  9. Russ says:

    The AG here in CT is also going to haul CVS onto the carpet to explain why they expired date code drugs and food products. Way to go CVS!

  10. guilguiffin says:

    Here in Canada it is free. For the uninsured (i.e. foreign tourists and non-residents) it only costs $7.50. How is it possible that it’s $130 at CVS!?!

  11. Chuck Norris' wig says:

    I fail to see how the act of taking a legal substance, making it into another legal substance, and selling it for as high as the market will allow for a profit is a problem.

    Your converting aluminum ore to aluminum cans?? OMG Alert the government!!

    • Sneeje says:

      God help you if you or any member of your family is in desperate need for a drug or some other health-related item that economics has moved beyond your ability to afford. Pretty easy to say it shouldn’t be a big deal…until it happens.

      I’m all for capitalism and free-market economics, but I also believe that we need to take a hard look at those things that affect basic humanity. That’s why Jon Stewart’s quote, “Be a f—–g person” resonates so much.

  12. HisShadowX says:

    Supply and Demand?

  13. TheDoctor says:

    Geez some of you people are heartless. As much as I hate it when I see something like tickets or this years big christmas toy being resold at 10X the market value, I agree with the simple rules of supply and demand, but when peoples health are involved I think we need to take something simple, like supply and demand, out of a complicated world pandemic situation. These are peoples well being we are talking about, not some stupid trinket.

  14. chemicalx9 says:

    In any case, if your pharmacy is out of liquid Tamiflu, you can actually make it at home.

    The pharmacies should be able to compound it for you.

  15. Pender says:
  16. TheTurnTablist says:

    -Tamiflu only shortens the flu for about 4-6 hours, not 12-24 hours as some people assume. Tamiflu isn’t useless however, as some people need it who are at risk for swine flu, such as people with asthma or can have major complications such as pregnant people.

    -There were two studies that recently came out. One showed the swine flu was 92% resistant to Tamiflu (and even higher to Relenza) which basically means that your Tamiflu may not work. However, that being said, another study came out and said that there is a lower hospital admission rate of H1N1 patients who take Tamiflu than those who don’t. Who knows at this point, the two studies put together don’t make much sense.

    -Just because the price went up doesn’t necessarily mean it was price gouging. If the wholesalers or drug companies went up on their price with CVS/Walgreens/Other pharmacies, then the pharmacies will increase price accordingly. I don’t know if the AG has looked into this or not yet. One should remember though, that Tamiflu is a brand name drug with no substitutable equivalents for it. The drug company can increase the price to whatever they want and get away with it. Now, the chains may very well be price gouging, I don’t know. But there are other factors that the AG needs to look into first.

    -I don’t know if CT has any state laws against price gouging. If there aren’t any, I dont know if the AG can do much.

    -A while ago, liquid Tamiflu was manufacturer back ordered and no pharmacy could get any. However, we could compound it into a liquid form in the pharmacy. This would increase the price of the drug for the patient as compounding is a skill that takes a few years to learn to do well and correctly. You would not only be charged for the drug, but also for each individual ingredient that went into the compound (ora-sweet/Ora-plus and syrup or flavoring), and also be charged a fee for the compounding. I believe that liquid Tamiflu still has to be compounded as all pharmacies I have worked in recently keep a small premade stock for patients in two different concentrations.

    -If you all think pharmacies are ripping people off on drugs, you should look more at the Pharmacy Benefit Managers (Caremark and MEDCO are the worst). They are complex works of art who hide drug rebates they get from drug companies, and claim they pass the savings on to people who use insurance through them, but in reality keep the rebates for their own profits.

    • guilguiffin says:

      Just wondering out of sheer curiosity…hope it doesn’t offend…pharmacies here (Canada) charge a dispensing fee that can be anywhere from $4-$10. These fees are a fixed rate charged per Rx. My mother always told me that pharmacists charged this fee because in the past they had to actually grind things together (or something like that) to fill a prescription and that now they simply count pills or pour a certain quantity of liquid, yet the fee remained. Is this extra charge for making it in liquid form ON TOP of the regular dispensing fee?