Archive for the ‘drug prices’ Category

Girl’s $143,000 bill for snakebite treatment reveals antivenin price gouging

April 30th, 2019
Even this copperhead thinks that's crazy.

Enlarge / Even this copperhead thinks that's crazy. (credit: Getty | Smith Collection)

Snakebites can be painful and scary. But they may seem like weak nips after the hospital’s billing department sinks their teeth in.

Emergency treatment for a copperhead bite in a 9-year-old Indiana girl last summer cost a jaw-dropping $142,938, according to a report by Kaiser Health News. The bill includes $67,957 for four vials of antivenin. That works out to $16,989.25 for each vial—more than five times the average list price of $3,198. The bill also included $55,577.64 for air-ambulance transportation.

The girl, now 10, was away at summer camp last July, hiking in Illinois. When she went to step over a cluster of rocks on the trail, she got a bite on a toe on her right foot. Her camp counselors suspected it was a copperhead snake that bit her and rushed to get her medical treatment. She arrived at St. Vincent Evansville hospital in Indiana by air ambulance where doctors gave her four vials of an antivenin called CroFab. She was then transferred to Riley Hospital for Children in Indianapolis for recovery. All in all, she was released within 24 hours of the bite.

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Drug companies are sitting on generics—43% of recently approved aren’t for sale

February 8th, 2019
Drug companies are sitting on generics—43% of recently approved aren’t for sale

Enlarge (credit: Getty | Ute Grabowsky )

Of the more than 1,600 generic drugs approved by the Food and Drug Administration since January of 2017, more than 700—or 43 percent—are not for sale in the US, according to a new analysis by Kaiser Health News.

The finding means that many pricy, brand-name drugs are not facing the competition that could help drive down soaring prices. Among the drugs missing in action are generic versions of the expensive blood thinner Brilinta and the HIV medication Truvada. Moreover, of the approved drugs that would offer a brand-name drug its first competition, 36 percent are being held off the market, the analysis found.

Experts told KHN that the reasons drug makers may withhold an approved generic from the market are varied. Industry consolidation has made buying, manufacturing, and distributing generics more difficult in recent years. Generic drug makers also, as always, face patent litigation from brand-name makers. Then there’s potentially anti-competitive deals, in which brand-name drug makers simply pay generic makers to keep their product off the market for a while—a so-called “pay for delay” tactic.

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Healthcare industry spends $30B on marketing—most of it goes to doctors

January 11th, 2019
Healthcare industry spends $30B on marketing—most of it goes to doctors

Enlarge (credit: Getty | Media for Medical)

Talk with your doctor… It’s a common refrain at the end of any drug advertisement or disease awareness campaign. Ostensibly, it seems like a responsible suggestion. Talking with your own, trusted doctor can help determine if a new drug really is right for you, or if you may be suffering from an undiagnosed disease. You shouldn’t just take the word of the drug company behind that drug ad or awareness campaign, of course.

But the suggestion to consult with your doctor may not be as innocent as it seems. The drug company likely got to your doctor first.

Of the nearly $30 billion health companies now spend on medical marketing each year, around 68 percent (or about $20 billion) goes to persuading doctors and other medical professionals—not consumers—of the benefits of prescription drugs. That’s according to an in-depth analysis published in JAMA this week. The study broke down exactly how health companies convinced us to spend enormous sums on our care between 1997 and 2016. In that time, health companies went from spending $17.7 billion to $29.9 billion on medical marketing. Meanwhile, US healthcare spending hit $3.3 trillion, or 17.8 percent of the GDP, in 2016.

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