Prescription drug prices are expected to spike again, especially among some generic medications, following last year’s swift increase.
Even among generic medications, prices have risen several hundred percentage points, increasing the burden for consumers who are already saddled with higher healthcare costs and other debt. The rapid increase has been a surprise even to some pharmacists, prompting the Senate Subcommittee on Primary Health and Aging to look into the issue last November. Hillary Clinton has even made the fight for cheaper drugs a significant campaign issue. While the price to produce drugs could have some effect, the fact that the number of competitors has lessened due to mergers and acquisitions could be a larger contributor.
"Competition is the most important factor in driving prices down," said Peter Pitts, president of the Center for Medicine in the Public Interest,a New York-based healthcare non-profit organization. "The rise in the price in generics is an unfortunate play by insurance companies and pharmaceutical companies to increase profits at the expense of consumers. The continued contraction of the generic industry is not good for consumers, especially when it comes to certain drugs."
The rise in the cost of generic drugs is alarming, because they entail 80% of all prescriptions, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
A May report by the AARP Public Policy Institute, a Washington, D.C.-based non-profit consumer advocacy organization, found that while 73% of generic medications declined in price in 2013, 27% of them rose. The costs skyrocketed among some commonly used drugs such as doxycycline hyclate, an antibiotic, which rose steeply from $20 for 500 100-milligram capsules in October 2013 to an astounding $1,849 in April 2014. A cholesterol medication, Pravastatin sodium, climbed sharply from $27 to $196 for a one-year supply of 10-milligram tablets.
Options for Cheaper Drugs...