Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Pharmaceutical Sticker Shock

Prescription abandonment is becoming increasingly common. From the WSJ:

Growing numbers of Americans with health insurance are walking away from their prescriptions at the pharmacy counter, the latest indication that efforts to contain costs may be curbing health-care consumption.

A review of insurance-claims data shows that so-called abandonment—when a patient refuses to purchase or pick up a prescription that was filled and packaged by a pharmacist—was up 55% in the second quarter of this year, compared with four years earlier.

Given the state of the economy and the precarious finances of so many Americans, this really shouldn't come as a surprise.

Many are for drugs crucial to people's health, such as antibiotics like Levaquin, and Nexium for bleeding ulcers, but customers balk when told their share of the price, Mr. Tucker said.

"They just say, 'I can't afford it. I can't get it.' And they turn around and walk away," he said.

Mark Spiers, chief executive of Wolters Kluwer, points to efforts by employers and health plans to control fast-growing health-care spending by shifting more costs to consumers. The out-of-pocket costs, combined with people's sense they can't afford it, is causing some to make "real consumption choices about prescriptions versus other goods for their home," Mr. Spiers said.

Let me translate that. People are making the choice to feed their children, rather than fill their own prescriptions.

Big Pharma is retaliating by blaming insurance companies:

So with less people going to their physician, with higher co-pays, and with the prescription abandonment rate are record levels are insurers are essentially ensuring higher health costs down the road ? That’s what happens when people don’t take their medications or visit their physicians for physicians or medical problems that could become worse by avoiding diagnosis and treatment.
Right now pharma is at the mercy of both empowered consumers and insurers. People are starting to ask themselves “do I really need this Rx ?” DTC marketers spend hundreds of millions of dollars to get people to ask for an branded Rx but that is not enough anymore. Prescription assistance programs usually are not that effective for the broader audience because these people don’t qualify for help. Some drug companies are offering “discount cards” but in order to make their reach broader they are going to have to make these programs turn key, like Pfizer’s Lipitor prescription discount card.

Get out your tiny violin. The drug companies spend zillions on marketing (thanks to the taxpayers) but the ungrateful consumers just aren't paying the inflated brand name prices any more.

We have the highest prescription drug costs in the world, despite the fact that the pharmaceutical industry is heavily subsidized by we the taxpayers.Other countries choose to regulate drug prices, to keep drugs affordable. Between the inflated drug prices and rapidly increasing cost of health insurance, the US seems determined to keep our low ranking in world health. Remember this guy?

cross-posted at MainSt/

1 comment:

DissedBelief said...

He's great but being #37 is disgusting. More and more people need to start the exodus from local pharmaceutical business opportunities by going to Canadian drug pharmacies. I've mentioned it before, and here it is again. It's all a huge money machine and has NOTHING to do with taking care of peoples health, there is no health "care" here it's money care. Google did a deal with the US govt. not to forward Canadian drug company ads. Henceforth, I receive NO more emails from them. My ointment costs at Walmart (I have no insurance) almost $200. I get it from Canadadrug for $45 incl. s&h. I also get coupons from them, so nix the $10 s&h and I'm down to $35. This drug is made right here in the USA!