It seems Americans are increasingly showing up at their neighborhood pharmacies to find out that their medications’ prices have increased exponentially, by as much as 100, 200, 300, 600%…2500%! Believe me, I’m not exaggerating. In an article with a similar title as this blog post, called “Drug Price Gouging,” Steve DeFillippo brings us two examples of sickening drug price spikes. In one instance, a Mr. Gary Loser showed up at the pharmacy only to find that the price of his prescription drug went from $5.50 to $34.50 – an increase of 600%. Mr. DeFillippo then one upped Mr. Loser by recounting his drug price blast-off, when the price of his medication, Nadalol, went from $10 to $252 for a for a 90 day supply – a 2500% increase!
Americans frequently, and usually with good reason, blast big brand-name drug companies, like Eli Lilly, Merck, and Pfizer for charging much higher prices domestically than internationally. In this case we can’t slam big pharma because the medication at issue, Nadolol, is generic and has been around for 40 years. Generic drugs are usually pursued by consumers because their prices are so low. Moreover, generic drugs are usually less expensive in the U.S. than in Canada and many other countries.
So what the heck is up?
The “theory” I’m proposing is more or less just telling you what I’ve heard anecdotally from small U.S. pharmacy owners about these insane generic drug price increases. Over the last year or so, big chain pharmacies, such as CVS and Walgreens, have started to raise generic drug prices to maximize their profits. Now their profit margin is largely the difference between their costs, the wholesale price, and what they can sell it for to individuals, the retail price. Wholesaler pharmacies have apparently realized how much money the big U.S. pharmacy corporations are making on the large profit margins from some generic drugs. These wholesalers want a bigger piece of the pie so they are raising their prices, too. When that happens, good ole’ mom and pop pharmacies, ones that have tried to keep prices down, have to raise their prices, too. So it’s a vicious spiral.
You often don’t have to pay those crazy high prices but you’ve got to shop around. For instance, Nadolol 20mg can be purchased for much less, 100 pills for $52.22, using a prescription drug discount card at a local U.S. pharmacy.
I recommend calling your local pharmacy before you go pick up your medication. If the price is too high then go elsewhere to avoid getting gouged.