Thursday, October 12, 2017

Why Does Medicine Cost So Much More In America Than Anywhere Else?


When I went to the pharmacy at a cheap grocery store on the other side of tracks, I knew they wouldn't have the medicine, lacosamide, my doctor had prescribed. No one carries it. You go in and show your prescription and they order it and then you go pick it up. The pharmacist told me to come back the next day after 3pm. So I did. And she went through he paperwork and then came back to me in about 15 minutes and said, "Do you know the cost of filling this precription?" I said I did and she asked me how much. I was surprised and said around $850. "That's right," she said. "Do you want it?" Of course I want it; I need it, I said. "OK, we'll have it for you tomorrow."

I just came back from the other side of the tracks with my lacosamide. In Canada it would have cost me $187. But it's illegal to buy it from a Canadian pharmacy-- because paid off conservatives in Congress made it illegal in return for their "campaign contributions."

Before we go on, this chart shows which crooks in the House have taken the biggest bribes from Big Pharma just last year. Notice Speaker Ryan took $395,174. Pretty amazing-- but Ryan has taken $1,133,183 since being elected.

So far this year, the bribes have flowed most strongly, at least so far, towards 6 crooked Republicans who have kept drug prices unfathomably high-- just this year:
Greg Walden (R-OR)- $249,200
Paul Ryan (R-WI)- $167,600
Kevin Brady (R-TX)- $122,000
Kevin McCarthy (R-CA)- $104,675
Patrick Tiberi (R-OH)- $98,600
Eric Paulsen (R-MN)- $89,300
I was able to afford that $850 because I saved money when I was working in a good job. But that's a burden for anyone if you have to do it every month. That's over $10,000 a year. So why doesn't Medicare pay? Good question. I've been fighting with them for months. Medicare, Part D (AKA, "Republican Health Care") is the only part of Medicare that sucks and doesn't work. It was passed by a Republican Congress and signed by a Bush. No Democrats vote for it. It's a major rip off mechanism for the Big Pharma donors who bribe members of Congress.

My doctor is Elizabeth Budde, a Hematologic Oncologist. She and her staff saved my life after I was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer. Dr. Budde is one of the few specialists in the U.S. who know how to effectively deal with it. She's an internationally-celebrated research doctor in the field of immunotherapies for Lymphomas. While she was treating me she won a Damon Runyon Cancer Research Foundation Clinical Investigator Award. But someone at Medicare, Part D-- actually at Humana; but they blame Medicare-- is disputing her prescribing the drug. They claim lacosamide is for epilepsy and since I don't have epilepsy, they won't pay. She's had success in treating her patients who wind up with neuropathy-- a very common and painful degenerative nerve disease many people get from certain kinds of high intensity chemo, me being one of them. Anyway, I know for sure Randy Bryce-- also a cancer survivor-- is going to beat Paul Ryan next year and I'll be able to pay $187/month for my lacosamide instead of $850/month.

Meanwhile I just want to point out that despite Trumpanzee's populist language about drug companies that are "getting away with murder," he has none nothing to help and everything to make matters worse, much worse. This week, The Hill reported that some states-- blue ones-- "are taking matters into their own hands."
California passed a new law that requires pharmaceutical companies to explain a drug’s price tag, and other states are considering similar measures.

“This is not an issue that’s going away, and it’s clear that patients are demanding action on this topic, and if they can’t succeed on the federal level, then they’re going to the states,” said Rachel Sachs, an associate law professor at the Washington University School of Law.

On Monday, California Gov. Jerry Brown (D) signed drug pricing transparency legislation that supporters call the most robust law to date.

“Sacramento is proving we will lead where the folks in Washington, D.C., won’t,” California state Senate President Pro Tempore Kevin de León (D) said at a news conference Monday.

The new law requires drug companies to notify purchasers at least 60 days in advance before raising a price tag by more than 16 percent in a two-year period. Manufacturers would have to explain why the cost increased.

“Certainly all eyes are on California,” said Trish Riley, the National Academy for State Health Policy’s executive director. “It’s a very comprehensive bill, and it could well be a model for other states.”

A trade group for the drug industry slammed the bill as being “based on misleading rhetoric instead of what’s in the best interest of patients.”

“There is no evidence that SB 17 will lower drug costs for patients because it does not shed light on the large rebates and discounts insurance companies and pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs) are receiving that are not always being passed on to patients,” said Priscilla VanderVeer, a spokeswoman for the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA), in a statement.

“Nothing in SB 17 will help patients get the benefits of the savings that insurance companies and PBMs are getting.”

A handful of states have passed other drug pricing measures.

Last year, Vermont became the first state to put a law on its books requiring drugmakers to justify price hikes. The state will craft an annual list of up to 15 drugs that increased in price at least 50 percent over five years or 15 percent or more over one year. The makers of those drugs will then be required to explain the increase.

New York has a new law that caps prescription drug spending in its Medicaid program.

In Maryland, the state attorney general can take action if an off-patent or generic drug’s price drastically increases. And in Nevada, a new law focuses on increasing the transparency of insulin pricing for people with diabetes. Both measures are facing lawsuits from the drug industry.

Drug companies have argued that critics fail to recognize the value medicines are bringing and say the state-level regulations could thwart the distribution of life-saving drugs.

In response to California’s measure, PhRMA said “it’s time to move beyond creating new, costly bureaucratic programs that don’t make a dent in patients’ costs for medicines. We stand ready to work with policymakers on new innovation strategies that emphasize value while bringing down costs and expanding access to needed medicines.”

In Washington, D.C., lawmakers have put drug company CEOs in the hot seat, berating them for increasing the prices of certain drugs. They’ve launched investigations and introduced a host of bills, yet there hasn’t been any concrete movement on the issue in Congress thus far.
Goal ThermometerThat will be one of the side effects of replacing dozens and dozens of right-wing Republicans in 2018 with progressives, like the men and women whose campaigns you can contribute to by clicking on the Blue America ActBlue congressional thermometer on the right. Imagine being rid of Big Pharma whores like Ryan, Ed Royce (R-CA), Darrell Issa (R-CA), Fred Upton (R-MI), John Culberson (R-TX), Bruce Poliquin (R-ME) and Virginia Foxx (R-NC). Defeat these greedy bribe-taking conservatives and keep them defeated and the prices of medicines will start coming down rapidly, led by committed reformers like Bryce, Dr. David Gill (IL), Dr. Alina Valdes (FL) and Dr. Jason Weston (TX).

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At 9:21 PM, Blogger Gadfly said...

"Paid off conservatives" bullshit.

Dear Leader, if he wasn't going to do single-payer, could have at least included reimportation in Obamacare.

At 6:59 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"I know for sure Randy Bryce-- also a cancer survivor-- is going to beat Paul Ryan next year and I'll be able to pay $187/month for my lacosamide instead of $850/month."

Proof that delusions may also be a result of your chemo.

Even if Bryce wins, highly questionable, he will be impotent to affect ANY change that the phrma lobby doesn't want. They'll start lathering up the democraps (should they get a majority) and nothing will change. If the democraps succeed in NOT getting a majority, nothing will change. phrma's insurance policy is Pelosi/Crowley/hoyer and their hand-picked successors who ain't going nowhere... ever.

At 12:03 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

9:21, Prior to speechifying about his support, obamanation vowed to the medical lobby that there would be no PO nor SP; he also vowed to the phrma lobby that no bulk pricing leverage would be in obamneycare, thus continuing the bush part D obamanation.

Only cost them a few 10s of mil to the democraps.

Rx costs so much in this shithole because of one and only one thing. Voters are sub sentient potted plants who always elect those who are owned/operated by those lobbies.

After ACA, obamanation should have been impeached for lying, repeatedly, to the public about his desire for a PO and for pricing leverage on Rx... among a very long list of impeachable lies to the public.


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