Message Board User's Guide,
I just got this from a friend in San Diego and checked it on http://www.snopes.com. I'll post a companion explanatory piece later.
Let's hear it for Costco!! (This is just mind-boggling!) Make sure you read all the way past the list of the drugs. The woman that signed below is a Budget Analyst out of federal Washington, DC offices. Did you ever wonder how much it costs a drug company for the active ingredient in prescription medications? Some people think it must cost a lot, since many drugs sell for more than $2.00 per tablet. We did a search of offshore chemical synthesizers that supply the active ingredients found in drugs approved by the FDA. As we have revealed in past issues of Life Extension, a significant percentage of drugs sold in the United States contain active ingredients made in other countries. In our independent investigation of how much profit drug companies really make, we obtained the actual price of active ingredients used in some of the most popular drugs sold in America. The data below speaks for itself.
Celebrex: 100 mg Consumer price (100 tablets): $130.27 Cost of general active ingredients: $ 0.60Percent markup: 21,712%
Claritin: 10 mgConsumer Price (100 tablets): $215.17 Cost of general active ingredients: $0.71Percent markup: 30,306%
Keflex: 250 mg Consumer Price (100 tablets): $157.39 Cost of general active ingredients: $1.88Percent markup: 8,372%
Lipitor: 20 mg Consumer Price (100 tablets): $272.37 Cost of general active ingredients: $5.80Percent markup: 4,696%
Norvasc: 10 mg CONSUMER price (100 tablets): $188.29Cost of general active ingredients: $0.14Percent markup: 134,493%
Paxil: 20 mg Consumer price (100 tablets): $220.27 Cost of general active ingredi ents: $7.60Percent markup: 2,898%
Prevacid: 30 mg Consumer price (100 tablets): $44.77 Cost of general active ingredients: $1.01Percent markup: 34,136%
Prilosec : 20 mg Consumer price (100 tablets): $360.97 Cost of general active ingredients: $0.52Percent markup: 69,417%
Prozac: 20 mg Consumer price (100 tablets): $247.47 Cost of general active ingredients: $0.11Percent markup: 224,973%
Tenormin: 50 mg Consumer price (100 tablets): $104.47 Cost of general active ingredients: $0.13Percent markup: 80,362%
Vasotec: 10 mg Consumer price (100 tablets): $102.37 Cost of general active ingredients: $0.20Percent markup: 51,185%
Xanax: 1 mg Consumer price (100 tablets): $136.79 Cost of general active ingredients: $0.024Percent markup: 569,958%
Zestril: 20 mgConsumer price (100 tablets): $89.89Cost of general active ingredients: $3.20Percent markup: 2,809
Zithromax: 600 mgConsumer price (100 tablets): $1,482.19 Cost of general active ingredients: $18.78Percent markup: 7,892%
Zocor: 40 mgConsumer price (100 tablets): $350.27 Cost of general active ingredients: $8.63Percent markup: 4,059%
Zoloft: 50 mgConsumer price: $206.87Cost of general active ingredients: $1.75Percent markup: 11,821% Since the cost of prescription drugs is so outrageous, I thought everyone should know about this. Please read the following and pass it on. It pays to shop around. This helps to solve the mystery as to why they can afford to put a Walgreen's on every corner. On Monday night, Steve Wilson, an investigative reporter for Channel 7 News in Detroit, did a story on generic drug price gouging by pharmacies. He found in his investigation, that some of these generic drugs were marked up as much as 3,000% or more. Yes, that's not a typo , three thousand percent! So often, we blame the drug companies for the high cost of drugs, and usually rightfully so. But in this case, the fault clearly lies with the pharmacies themselves. For example, if you had to buy a prescription drug, and bought the name brand, you might pay $100 for 100 pills. The pharmacist might tell you that if you get the generic equivalent, they would only cost $80, making you think you are "saving" $20. What the pharmacist is not telling you is that those 100 generic pills may have only cost him $10! At the end of the report, one of the anchors asked Mr. Wilson whether or not there were any pharmacies that did not adhere to this practice, and he said that Costco consistently charged little over their cost for the generic drugs. I went to the Costco site, where you can look up any drug, and get its online price. It says that the in-store prices are consistent with the online prices. I was appalled. Just to give you one example from my own experience, I had to use the drug, Compazine, which helps prevent nausea in chemo patients. I used the generic equivalent, which cost $54.99 for 60 pills at CVS. I checked the price at Costco, and I could have bought 100 pills for $19.89. For 145 of my pa in pills, I paid $72.57. I could have got 150 at Costco for $28.08. I would like to mention, that although Costco is a "membership" type store, you do NOT have to be a member to buy prescriptions there, as it is a federally regulated substance. You just tell them at the door that you wish to use the pharmacy, and they will let you in (this is true). I went there this past Thursday and asked them. I am asking each of you to please help me by copying this letter, and passing it onto your own e-mail list, and send it to everyone you know with an e-mail address. Sharon L. Davis Budget AnalystU.S . Department of CommerceRoom 6839Office Ph: 202-482-4458Office Fax: 202-482-5480 E-mail Address: email@example.com
and also from a USN CAPT Ret -
In keeping with this line of thought, my Brother in law is a doctor. Until recently he was a surgeon, but stopped doing surgery. There was one procedure he performed that he charged three hundred dollars for, BUT, the insurance to cover the procedure cost him three hundred fifty dollars. It actually cost him fifty dollars every time he did this procedure. My sister in Vegas is in the health field and she can't get doctor appointments for months. Insurance costs are getting so bad out there that doctors are closing up their offices and leaving. One did so with patients in the waiting room! Most of the problem lies with the malpractice insurance costs. In this sue happy world we're in, the lawyers are driving the doctors out of business. Yes, the politicians who direct policy are lawyers too, it's a catch twenty two situation for the doctors! No wonder a visit to the doctor has become an assembly line like atmosphere. If they don't see a different patient every fifteen minutes, they're losing money.
I have no love for doctors either and have some views on them too. But, even they are getting screwed these days, just like the rest of us. As for the drug companies, I tell my doctor that I don't believe in padding pockets. The companies will change an ingredient for a drug, just to renew a patent to make more money. I tell him that if there isn't a generic available, don't bother writing it because I won't fill it. Last year's wonder drug is this year's generic and that's good enough for me.
Contrary to popular belief, most legislators are NOT lawyers. Perhaps the groups with the biggest lobby are the insurers, who seem to be able to afford more real estate ownership than any other business. Also, the doctors have a strong lobby across the board.
HMO's do not bear a fair share of their burden when it comes to disallowing coverage which may have an adverse effect on the patient.
For the record, I do not handle Med. Mal. cases, but if a doctor is injuring someone thru negligent behavior, than they should no longer practice. Also, premiums for all but orthopedic surgeons and OB/GYN's have been declining in price, relative to the bad actions of the few. It is not easy to prove malpractice and doctors are given wide leeway in what is considered to be within acceptable bounds. Doctors and insurance companies have pushed for tort reform which, in essence, may punish those most in need of continuing care and pain and suffering for a lifetime. What will a $250,000 cap do for someone who is in constant pain over time?
Only cases bordering on the absurd seem to reach the public. If an infant or an elderly person is injured or dies as the result of med. mal., their lives have almost no value. This is an injustice.
I rest my case.
Eileen D. '70
Snopes has a more extensive list w/ price comparisons also.
Barry, I agree about the unnecessary print and media advertising driving up the costs. What ever happened to Doctors selecting what should be good for you? Now, you're supposed to tell him?
Thanks Eileen for the info on the insurance and the outrageous tort reform efforts. Amazing how money colors policy.
another reaction to the Costco post from the original circle-
While there are extremes to the med malpractice problem, some of the underlying reasons are the doctors themselves. There are some pretty arrogant doctors out there, who feel their word is the final word on the issue and they are above making errors. For these, there should be no limit on the amounts one may collect when their arrogance costs someone a lifetime of problems. Like the fools who amputated the wrong leg, or the one who performed invasive surgery on the wrong patient! But, the lawyers are still to blame for some of the stupid suits brought. Oh my, I bought a cup of hot coffee and spilled some on myself, it must be the store's fault so I'll sue them. Worse than the shyster who takes on the case, is the fool of a judge who'll actually entertain it! Sort of like a person got stitches for a cut, but was still bleeding. The doctor obviously must've not done things right, so sue the bum! Never mind you were instructed to keep it dry, but went for a swim instead.
While the insurance industry has a major lobbying group, so too, do the drug companies. This is a reason our costs are where they are, as compared to Canada's. Another thing overlooked so far is the federal grants, and other funding, these companies get to do research and discovery. The arguement for the costs of these procedures are akin to saying that the phone company should charge more for researching technology in bettering service. Of course, the phone company doesn't need the government to legislate buying service from Canada because it's more reasonably priced. Kudos to Massachusetts, for bucking the feds and offering Canadian drugs for their employees in order to cut costs!
I enter this fray with trepidation, and disclose immediately that I have worked in the Research Division at Pfizer for 23 years. I do not have time to enter into long analyses of drug pricing (which is not my expertise anyway). I do want to point out that we (Pfizer) are spending over $7 billion dollars per year on medicinal research. (None of this money comes from government grants; it comes from drug sales.) The work we do is at the highest level of technical quality, and we are researching all major diseases from cancer to AIDS to frailty to diabetes to stroke to Alzheimers to...... We have very recently launched new drugs for smoking cessation (which I am optimistic about) and for cancer (Sutent). It is unfortunate that the "man on the street" does not get to see the enormity of our laboratory effort. When I was an academic, I could not have imagined what went on in a place like this, where all work is focussed on the goal of drug discovery, where we constantly reevaluate our successes and failures, and where we never give up. (When I was an academic, when something failed, I could just choose to look at another problem, and as long as I published a paper, I was a success. In my current world, you cannot turn away from failure - you keep on pushing toward your goal with a long term view.)
In my 23 years here, I have seen only dedication to curing disease, with no cynicism about making money or taking advantage of people. The scientists and physicians here are dedicated to the goal of discovering new medicines. I doubt that the situation is different at any other "innovator" drug company. Call me a Pollyanna, but I see Pfizer as an institution of great value to society. How society pays for this should certainly be up for debate, but we should be careful about killing the goose that laid the golden egg.
Pfizer has probably suffered a blow to its reputation because of the serendipitous discovery of Viagra (which by the way does help people). I became aware of this a couple of years ago when I was asked to talk to actors and playwrights and directors at the National Playwrights' Conference about scientific creativity and passion. One of the young actors actually asked "How can you look at yourself in the mirror in the morning when you work on a drug like Viagra rather than on a cure for cancer?" One of my fellow scientific panelists didn't miss a beat, and asked back "How can you look at yourself in the mirror in the morning when you work in commercials instead of in plays?" The point, of course, is that we plow our profits (from Viagra and other things) into an earnest search for cures for cancer and other diseases. Ask yourself where the profits of generic companies go.
Enough for now. I attach the following from Reuters today, for your information. (Back to work!)
- Bill '66
LONDON (Reuters) - Pfizer Inc's new cancer drug Sutent is effective forpatients suffering from advanced gastrointestinal tumours which do not respondto the standard treatment, researchers said on Wednesday. The drug, which is also known as sunitinib, is used to treat advanced kidneycancer. But research published online by The Lancet medical journal shows ithelps patients with gastrointestinal stromal tumours (GIST) resistant toimatinib, which is sold by Novartis AG under the name Gleevec. "Although the exact molecular mechanisms might be multifactorial and requirefurther study, our findings show that sunitinib is an effective therapeuticoption for patients with gastrointestinal stromal tumour after failure ofimatinib," said Dr George Demetri, of the Dana-Farber Cancer Center in Boston,Massachusetts, who led the research team. Sutent is part of a new generation of targeted cancer drugs that are gentler onpatients than chemotherapy, which can cause serious side effects as well asnausea. GIST usually grows in the stomach or small intestine but it can occur in almostany part of the digestive track. Sutent is given when Gleevec does not stop thecancer from growing or in patients who cannot tolerate it. The researchers tested the oral treatment on 312 patients in 11 countries. Theywere given Sutent or a dummy pill in six-week cycles with four weeks ontreatment and two weeks off. The study was cut short when patients on the treatment showed a much longermedian time to tumour progression of 27.3 weeks compared to 6.4 in the placebogroup. "Time to tumour progression, progression-free survival, overall survival, andother measures of tumour response were significantly greater in patientstreated with sunitinib than in those in the placebo group," said Demetri. He added that side effects, which included fatigue, diarrhoea, skindiscoloration and nausea, were tolerable.
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