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Drugmakers thumb nose at government pressure, hike drug prices at every opportunity

Healthcare costs

(NaturalNews) Despite the public's outrage at the pharmaceutical drug industry's price increases that basically occur on a regular basis, Big Pharma. They're even determined to jack prices up to outrageous – and often unaffordable – levels, despite the fact that politicians, and even the very medical professionals that recommend them, are questioning such actions.

Here's one for you: At the start of the new year 2016, Vanda Pharmaceuticals Inc. decided to increase the price of a drug that treats sleeping disorders in blind people by 10 percent. The cost is now 76 percent higher than when it was introduced just two years prior, in 2014. The bottom line in this instance? People relying on this drug best be prepared to dish out $148,000 every year, or thank their lucky stars that they (hopefully) have some darn good health insurance. Either way, the price increase is horribly unfair.(1)

But Vanda Pharmaceuticals isn't alone in their decision to boost drug prices. Pfizer Inc., Amgen Inc., Allergan PLC, Horizon Pharma PLC and many others have also jumped on the greedy bandwagon; equity analysts estimate that such companies have increased their prices upwards of 10 percent since December 2015.(1)

Happy New Year, everyone!

Out-of-control examples of "pricing power" at work

David Steinberg, an analyst with the banking investment firm, Jefferies, says that the price gouging "signals there's still pricing power. Unlike other countries, there's no mechanism whereby regulatory authorities can control price."(2)

So, latching on to the out-of-whack price regulations (or lack thereof), that apparently make it all justifiable, Big Pharma continues to raise the price of various drugs, putting added stress on ailing individuals who can't afford – financially and emotionally – the steep costs.

Amgen, for example, raised the price of an anti-inflammatory drug by 8 percent late last year. As if that's not bad enough, they had already increased the price by 8 percent just a few months prior, after having – you guessed it – increased it not too long before that. That's three times in a very short amount of time, and it's saddening. The drug costs approximately just over $700 weekly, which translates to about $36,000 annually.(2)

It goes on.

But it's for your own good, really ...

Acorda Therapeutics Inc. jacked up the price of a drug designed to help multiple-sclerosis patients' mobility by 11 percent. This means that the per patient cost is over $23,650 annually.(2)

In a classic move designed to deflect the issue at hand and make it appear as though this is all about the patient's best interests, Acorda Chief Executive Ron Cohen explains the price increases as "our way of insuring that we can survive and develop these programs and bring these new innovative drugs to market." He also attempts to soften the high cost blow by reminding people that several rebates and discounts exist which can cut approximately 40 percent from the recent increase.(2)

Well then, by all means, keep the increases coming.

The sad and persistent reality of pharmaceutical price gouging

Of course, one can't help but be reminded of the price gouge master himself, Martin Shkreli, the former CEO of Turing Pharmaceuticals. You'll recall that he thought it a brilliant idea to increase a lifesaving pill primarily used by AIDS and cancer patients from $13.50 per tablet to $750 per tablet. In the months following, a series of events unfolded, including his arrest, his release on bail, his rather odd live-streaming videos, and tons of bizarre social media behaviors which included referring to himself as a god on Twitter.(3,4)

It truly is sad that this "just because we can" behavior is taking place, and with such nonchalant frequency. Is this what some people really do? Give them free reign and bare-bones regulatory measures to abide by and just like that, they immediately begin to craft ways to prey on the health, finances and emotions of others?

Yes, indeed.

As we've seen, it's an unfortunate reality that appears to have a long road ahead before fairer pricing – and people – are put in place.

Sources for this article include:

(1) MarketWatch.com

(2) WSJ.com

(3) NaturalNews.com

(4) NaturalNews.com

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