A year ago I posted about the worrying trend of generic medications—a mainstay of affordable health care—rising in price by 100%, 200%, 1000% or more. My husband’s levothyroxine, for example, has increased in price by over 600% since 2013.
The common and used-to-be-dirt-cheap antibiotic, doxycycline, has gone up a whopping 6,000%!
Unfortunately, this trend has not stopped.
The latest old-drug, new-price story is that of Daraprim (pyrimethamine). Last month Turing Pharmaceuticals bought this drug and immediately jacked up the price from $13.50 per tablet to $750, an increase of over 5,000%.
The New York Times, I think, had the most informational article: Drug Goes From $13.50 a Tablet to $750, Overnight
I laughed when I looked up the new price on GoodRx, a website for comparing drug prices. In my area, Fred Meyer has the cheapest price at $45,638.10 for 60 tablets. Imagine that transaction at the pharmacy counter! Will that be cash, check or credit card?
Now, Daraprim is not a generic, but it’s been around for over 60 years. It’s used to treat toxoplasmosis, a parasitic infection that we can get from eating raw or undercooked meats, or handling dirty kitty litter. (The parasite is common in cats, which is why pregnant women are advised not to clean out their cats’ litter boxes.)
There is no generic because it’s not a widely prescribed drug, so there is no financial incentive for a drug company to make a generic. And it’s very unlikely another company will suddenly decide to compete with Turing Pharmaceuticals and start making a generic, so we are stuck paying whatever price Turing charges.
Turing’s CEO said the price increase would help fund development of better treatments for toxoplasmosis. Really? Because the experts don’t think we don’t need one.
“I certainly don’t think this is one of those diseases where we have been clamoring for better therapies,” said Dr. Wendy Armstrong, professor of infectious diseases at Emory University in Atlanta.
- High prescription drug costs will be unsustainable
- The high cost of cancer drugs
- Praluent – Treating cholesterol just got more expensive
Turing also claims that because Daraprim is not widely used, the exorbitant cost will not have much of an impact.
Tell that to the patient being treated for toxoplasmosis, or the insurance company that decides to raise everyone’s premiums in order to cover Daraprim for those few patients.
Even if none of us ever needs Daraprim, or any of the other crazy-expensive generic or brand name drugs that are suddenly our new normal, we are all paying more for health care through higher premiums, co-pays and taxes (Medicare, Medicaid and Obamacare subsidies).
I’m still waiting to see if, when and how these seemingly random and unwarranted prices are brought back to something more reasonable and affordable.
Update! I just saw Breaking News that Turing’s CEO will “roll back” and “adjust” the pricing of Daraprim. To the original price? He didn’t say. But as my husband commented, anything less than $750 a tablet can be claimed to be “more affordable.” 😉
We shall see. In the meantime, make sure your meat is properly cooked and take precautions when changing your cat’s kitty litter. Now is NOT the time to get toxoplasmosis!