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Drug costs

Paying actual drug costs could plunge you and millions of others into poverty

Friday, September 03, 2010 by: Jonathan Benson, staff writer
Tags: drug costs, poverty, health news

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(NaturalNews) Drug companies are known for marking up their branded drugs by ridiculous margins. Certain drugs are sold for hundreds, even thousands, of times more than they actually cost to produce. Researchers from Erasmus University Rotterdam recently conducted a study showing that millions of people would be reduced to poverty status if they had to pay full price for some of today's most common drugs.

Published in the journal Public Library of Science Medicine (PLoS), the study evaluated the status of low- and middle-income people from 16 different countries to see how purchasing four popular branded drugs would affect their incomes and living statuses. These drugs included salbutamol, an inhaler used for asthma, glibenclamide, a diabetes drug, atenolol, a high blood pressure beta-blocker, and amoxicillin, an common antibiotic.

Purchasing Daonil, a branded version of glibenclamide made by Sanofi-Aventis, would increase the poverty rate in Yemen by 22 percent, for instance. And in Nigeria, Amoxil, an amoxicillin drug produced by GlaxoSmithKline, would impoverish an additional 23 percent of the population.

Drug companies typically own the patents on their drugs for about 20 years. Until the patent expires, no other company is allowed to legally produce generic varieties of the same drug. So the original drug company that produces a drug can charge whatever it wishes for that drug because it holds a monopoly on it.

Many have criticized the drug patent system because they say it bars lower income populations from obtaining essential medicines. Others say the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is to blame because it only approves patented drugs as official treatments for health conditions, essentially raising the overall cost of medicine while reducing the quality of it.

Some suggest a complete overhaul in medicine, starting with the establishment of a new foundational nutrition paradigm. By understanding the essential role of good nutrition and natural living, people at all income levels can learn to prevent disease without the need for expensive, harmful drugs.

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