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Thu Dec 15, 2016, 01:38 PM

Poor STILL Can't Afford Outpatient Pneumonia Meds---Thanks to Generic Price Fixing

Maybe someone out there listens. Back in 2014, I wrote about how my patients could no longer afford outpatient pneumonia treatment, because the most effective generic drug (at that time) indicated for pneumonia treatment, doxycycline had gone from being a $4 drug to a $50 plus dollar drug.


How does an old dirt cheap generic suddenly increase its price ten times? The manufacturer claimed to have a monopoly on the precursor ingredient, meaning that it could keep any other generic company from making or selling the drug. Ugly, but I guess it’s legal.

However, twenty state attorney generals are now saying that it was not that simple.

The suit focused on two drugs, the antibiotic treatment doxycycline and the diabetes drugs glyburide. But it added that the scheme went far beyond those two treatments and could include more drugs.

The lawsuit said the investigation began in July 2014 and was initiated by the state of Connecticut, which “uncovered evidence of a broad, well-coordinated and long-running series of schemes to fix the prices and allocate markets for a number of generic pharmaceuticals in the United States.”

On Wednesday, federal prosecutors made similar claims against two former executives at Heritage Pharmaceuticals, one of the companies named in the suit, accusing them of engaging in a price-fixing scheme for the same two drugs.

“It blows that entire assumption out of the water,” he said, “when you hear that generic companies are getting together to increase prices.”


The world was shocked when they realized how expensive Epi-pens are. The manufacturer claimed the steep price was justified, because it was cheaper than an emergency room visit--- stupid logic if you consider that when you use an Epi-pen you then have to go to the ER for follow up treatment. And, of course none of us will forget the sense of sticker shock we experienced when a greedy exec raised the price of Daraprim from $13 to $750---because he could.

Or thought he could. The generic drug industry is probably angry as hell at him for blowing the lid off their ongoing scam. They probably thought no one would notice that doxycycline only increased its price ten times. But if you are a doctor treating people without insurance or jobs, you notice when they come back to you still coughing to complain “Doc, I couldn’t afford that antibiotic. You said it was a generic. But the drug store wanted fifty bucks for it!”

State attorney generals, can you please add generic Suprax to your list? That medication is older than the hills and my cash paying patients are still being charged $200 for it. Like doxycycline, it is more or less unique (only third generation oral cephalosporin on the market) and treats things that no other generic antibiotic treat---like resistant kidney infections---but that is no excuse for it being priced like a patent medication.

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