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Brand name drugs account for just 10% of prescriptions, but majority of spending


Brand name drugs

(NaturalNews) The spiraling cost of prescription medications has become a hot news topic again since Big Pharma drug maker Mylan recently hiked the price of its EpiPen allergy injection treatment by more than 400 percent.

This latest price-gouging move by an already highly profitable pharmaceutical company has drawn sharp criticism and raised questions regarding the high cost of drugs in America. This is a system that allows greedy drug makers to take advantage of sick people who often can barely afford their medications in the first place – not to mention keeping up with triple digit percentage price hikes.

On August 23, the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) published a "special communication" exploring "the origins and effects of high drug prices in the US market," and "policy option" measures that could be implemented to address the issue.

Americans spend more than double the average on drugs compared to other developed nations

The authors of the paper noted that Americans spend more on drugs than any other country – an average per capita spend of $858, which is more than double the average amount of 19 other industrialized nations.

They also pointed out the fact that brand name pharmaceuticals account for only 10 percent of drugs prescribed, but rake in 72 percent of the total amount spent.

The main reasons for this imbalance, they concluded, are government policies that protect drug companies against competition, effectively granting monopolies to Big Pharma companies like Mylan and others – such as Turing Pharmaceuticals, which notoriously raised the price of a cancer and AIDS drug more than 5,000 percent immediately after purchasing the rights to sell it.

From the JAMA report:

"The most important factor that allows manufacturers to set high drug prices is market exclusivity, protected by monopoly rights awarded upon Food and Drug Administration approval and by patents. The availability of generic drugs after this exclusivity period is the main means of reducing prices in the United States, but access to them may be delayed by numerous business and legal strategies."

Another factor, according to the report, is that physicians often prescribe higher-priced drugs when cheaper alternatives are available. They point out that doctors are often unaware of the price differences due to the "separate roles of patients, prescribers, and payers."

"This separation has traditionally insulated physicians from knowing about drug prices or considering those prices in their clinical decision making and can similarly remove many patients with good drug coverage from considering the price of the medications they 'purchase.'"

The authors recommend several strategies for combating the problem. These include revising patent exclusivity policy, ensuring wider generic drug availability, providing price negotiation options for governmental payers, "generating more evidence about comparative cost-effectiveness of therapeutic alternatives," and actively educating doctors and consumers about such choices.

Mainstream medicine is about profits, not cures

Of course, these recommendations are coming from within the mainstream medical establishment, and although they may be effective in providing some relief to consumers, they don't address what many alternative health practitioners view as a broken and corrupt system that is essentially rotten to its core.

The medical establishment as it now exists is fundamentally based on prescribing often dangerous and ineffective (not to mention outrageously expensive) drugs that make billions for Big Pharma interests, and has little or no interest in promoting actual good health.

The allopathic approach ignores the fact that natural, plant-based treatments are far more effective than pharmaceuticals, and that proper diet and lifestyle are the keys to the prevention of disease.

Big Pharma spends millions of dollars each year lobbying to protect its interests – a current example is the $70 million already being spent by drug companies to defeat California's Drug Price Relief Act initiative, which will be on the ballot in November.

Before the November vote, drug industry spending towards killing the initiative is expected to exceed $100 million.

Meanwhile, federal regulatory agencies, staffed by pharmaceutical industry insiders, are doing all they can to suppress alternative medicine by making it difficult – and sometimes outright illegal – to market inexpensive, natural plant-based remedies and dietary supplements.

So tell me: What's really wrong with this picture?

Sources:

JAMA.JAMANetwork.com

FoxNews.com

BostonGlobe.com

LATimes.com

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