Originally published February 5 2014
So much for healthcare 'reform' - Greedy Big Pharma pushing up drug prices
by J. D. Heyes
(NaturalNews) Despite the Affordable Care Act's promise of controlling healthcare costs, the prices of many drugs are quietly skyrocketing - doubling, tripling and, in some cases, even quadrupling in price - but for some reason, no one seems to know why.
There has been some speculation as to why Big Pharma is jacking up prices, but in the "opaque world of health care pricing, figuring out what's driving the increase has become difficult - if not impossible," reports the National Journal.
Oddly, pharmacists say they have no idea what is going on. Confused by the phenomenon, the National Community Pharmacists Association has appealed to Congress to hold hearings to figure out what's going on. Per the National Journal:
The problem, the group says, is that pharmacists are getting gouged. Pharmacists trying to get their hands on generic drugs such as Pravastatin, a drug for patients with high cholesterol, or the [antibiotic] Doxycycline faced price spikes upwards of 1,000 percent in 2013, according to a survey by the group.
Some 77 percent of pharmacists surveyed by the association said in the last six months of 2013 they experienced 26 or more instances of a large upswing in the acquisition price of a generic drug.
Obamacare to blame - in part
In addition, 84 percent said price fluctuations have inhibited them from providing care and remaining in business, as a number of community pharmacies have been unable to fill prescriptions that would result in losses. Some patients have even decided against buying some medications because they cost too much.
But why are there such dramatic increases so suddenly?
"A lot of times, prices go up because of the rising costs of raw materials along with increased demand, resulting in drug shortage," Tiffany Ngo, a Fairfax, Va., community pharmacist and founder of Cuddly Pandas, a homeopathic distributor, told me in an email.
She blames Obamacare, in part.
"I personally think that Obamacare does not reign the [sic] costs, at least at this time, because some of my customers still have problems finding doctors in networks and their medications are not covered with their new plans," she said.
Patricia R. Audet, PharmD, Chair and Professor at the Department of Pharmaceutical and Healthcare Business, Mayes College of Healthcare Business and Policy at the University of the Sciences in Philadelphia, says supply and demand is only part of the issue.
"Patients have seen a drop in copays for generics and an increase in copays for branded and specialty drugs," she told Natural News.
Drugs being shipped at 'record high prices'
Regulations are also partially to blame; she said new Food and Drug Administration rules have caused Big Pharma costs to rise.
But Obamacare may be having a large role in this as well. Audet said that another reason why costs may be rising for patients is because insurance companies are shifting more of drug costs to them. She said "insurance plans are increasing number of tiers and pushing more drugs to higher tier status with more significant patient copays." And she says provisions were not included in the law to specifically control the cost of drugs.
John Fazio, Rph, owner of New London Pharmacy, located in New York City, echoed Audet in noting that there are no Obamacare provisions aimed at keeping drug costs under control. She also told me something truly shocking - that drug price increases of 50 times "are not uncommon."
"Dramatic price increases have been part of the pharmaceutical industry for years," he said in an email. And while he also blamed "supply and demand," Fazio noted that Big Pharma is shipping brand-name drugs "to the market at record high prices."
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