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Corruption: Drug makers turning cheap generic drugs into 'new' expensive pills


(NaturalNews) When pharmaceuticals go off-patent, the market for generics opens up and prices typically drop – often by a lot. But drug companies have reportedly developed a new scheme to jack prices back up, that involves repackaging multiple generic drugs into one single "new" drug, which is then sold at an outrageous premium.

One example of this is the drug "Treximet," manufactured by Pernix Therapeutics Holdings Inc. Treximet is made up of two drugs – sumatriptan and naproxen – that are both sold generically for pennies on the dollar. But in the form of Treximet, the combined therapeutic runs upwards of $750 for nine pills, an extortionate price considering the ingredients.

The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) recently ran an expose on this latest drug racket, which is Big Pharma's way of keeping the profits rolling in at the expense of patients. The report highlights a number of repackaged generics that are being sold to patients at outrageous prices, including common drugs like the acne cream Acanya and the weight loss drug Qsymia.

The drug industry claims, hilariously, that repackaged multi-generics are intended to benefit consumers, who then don't have to worry about taking the combined ingredients individually. But to patients like Kendall Jack, the change is costing her big time, especially since repackaged generics like Treximet often aren't covered by insurance.

"Nothing's worth $750 for nine pills," the chronic migraine sufferer told the WSJ, noting that the same combination of drugs used to cost her just $20 as part of her insurance co-pay. She now takes sumatriptan and naproxen as separate pills at no cost, because individually, the two drugs are fully covered by her insurance plan.

"It's cruel," she added about this increasingly common industry practice.

Reasonable regulations could prevent drug companies from overcapitalizing on off-patent generics

Data compiled by GoodRx found that even insurers and employers are paying exorbitant prices for these repackaged generics. The average "discounted" cost for a box of Treximet, despite the massive up-charge to consumers, is still about $353 – this, compared to just $19 for sumatriptan and naproxen purchased separately.

It might not seem like that big of a deal, but it really is when considering the effects of this type of price gouging on the entire healthcare system. While drug companies offer "coupons" to help consumers save on their co-pays, these costs are absorbed into the system. In the end, consumers are still paying way more than they should be for drugs that, in reality, cost next to nothing to produce.

"Premiums go up, or it's passed on to employers," Michael Rea, chief executive officer of Rx Savings Solutions, a software company that helps employers and health insurance plans lower their prescription costs by purchasing generics individually, told the WSJ. "It all comes out of the same bucket."

Besides minimal added convenience, there's really no benefit to taking these repackaged multi-generics as opposed to their individual counterparts. But many patients aren't even being told that they have other options. This is why companies like Rx Savings Solutions exist – to counter the exploitative practices of greedy drug companies that will do anything to maintain monopolistic control over drugs, including those that are no longer under patent protection.

What the system needs is an infusion of regulatory protections to ensure that consumers are offered the most appropriate drugs at the least possible cost to themselves and their insurers. This would lower the cost of healthcare across the board, and help ensure that drug companies don't forever hold monopolistic control over drugs that, legally speaking, are no longer owned by a single entity, but that exist in the public realm for the benefit of everyone.

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