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November 17th, 2009
09:12 AM ET

AARP: Brand-name drugs up 9% in past year

When it comes to health care reform Democrats and Republicans don't seem to agree on much. One thing they do agree on is making a new system more affordable.

While Americans wait for Washington's health care overhaul, prescription drug prices are rising faster than they have in years, and it's calling into question the drug industry's promised "partnership" on reform. CNN's Alina Cho reports.

Filed under: Health
soundoff (37 Responses)
  1. Jan Watkins

    I would like to know the difference in the amount that Pharmacies receive from drug companies when their products are sold to fill prescriptions. The amount of reimbursement is different brand names vs generic.

    January 2, 2010 at 3:05 pm |
  2. Allolahelia

    Great, I did not know about this topic till now. Thx.

    November 25, 2009 at 8:01 pm |
  3. inde

    Though it would never happen: It would be great if CNN banned ads from health insurance companies and big pharma until they change their corrupt ways. But, that would take guts and choosing ethics in action over profit.

    November 18, 2009 at 8:31 pm |
  4. inde

    Here is how we should deal with Big Pharma now that they have again showed once again their unethical and cruel ways. The congress should pass a bill to allow Americans to get their drugs from certified pharmacies in other countries. Yep, let them raise the price for the junk they peddle; and go out of business by Americans being allowed to do business elsewhere. Next, because of their blatant actions; their profits SHOULD BE CAPPED! I would love CNN to do a story on the industries Americans distrust the most. My vote:
    Healthscare companies and big fat no soul PHARMA.

    November 18, 2009 at 8:13 pm |
  5. Steve

    Brand Vs. Generic. Only the active ingredient is the same. The in-active ingeridents are aht can vary, and they can vary between manufacturers. When purchasing the brand the ingreients list is ALWAYS the same,

    Sometimes those colors,coatings and assorted fillers can make a difference, and yes CVS has HUGE mark-ups. This is why they push Generics. The mark up on generics is much higher than brand thus resulting in a bigger profit. I'km sure Walgreen's and Rite-aid do thye same. I just really hate CVS

    November 18, 2009 at 10:19 am |
  6. Vicky Bevis

    I'm a retired nurse & u better betcha' last dollar that the drug companies spend, spend, spend on free, catered lunches for office staffs, free pens, free computer pads, & anything else including free vacations for doctors. I had a drug rep admit to me that their product for GERD (Gastro-esophigeal-reflux-disease) was ONE MOLECULE different from their closest competitor.

    The lowering of many old, tried & true drugs to the $4-$5 range by many outlets is a God-send esp. now with all the near depression hitting America the hardest of any country. At least other countries neogiate with drug companies for decent prices & that's why they are so affordable in other countries. I know; I have family in Australia. In 1999, Viagra was selling at their their VA for $3/script. It was over $10 here at the time. And that's what I call a "recreational drug." lol

    November 18, 2009 at 10:03 am |
  7. Tom

    Not just the drug industry, is corrupt, all of american business are. Drug companies want to have a monopoly and they are powerful enought to do it. They control the government, Senators and Congress people.
    What can an individual citizen do to break that partnership?
    even if we vote our current officials out of office, there is plenty more corrupt people that are willing to take their place.
    "one can not serve two masters" either the people you represent or the might $

    November 18, 2009 at 9:04 am |
  8. Denny

    The government (congress) needs to control what a drug company can charge for drugs. At the least investigate the Drug manufacturing companies to keep them honest. I know thats not the American way but a 9% increase in Drug cost is hard for someone on a fixed income or even an average 50K income family.

    I know first hand because I can't use a generic drug because it does not control my condition. I need the brand name drug for effectively control. There is not and AB drug equivalent.

    Someone is getting filthy rich and its not the average American.

    November 18, 2009 at 8:39 am |
  9. Robert

    Every time I goto the doctors office, I always see in the waiting area a man or woman from the big pharmas either just having finished a paid appointment with my doctor, making a new appointment or waiting to "see" the doctor to advise the doctor of all the greatest news about drug X Y and Z.

    plus these people are always flirting with the receptionists, trying to findout if the competitor has been in already, and trying to findout what other information they can gleen from handing out lots of pricey gifts to the receptionist staff. its just crazy they are allowed to do any of this.

    and for the one doctor on here to say they didn't get a kickback... your full of it. they get away with it by scheduling appointments at double the paient payment rates. thats why when You're at the doctor, and he/she is busy with.... and not seeing you.

    November 18, 2009 at 6:09 am |
  10. Scott

    Generic drug is a misnomer. There needs to be a push to reassign generic drugs as nonbrand drugs. Generic drugs are not the same as generic ketchup. They have the same active chemical, which is responsible for desired effect. The only legally allowed differences are binders, fillers, and color/shape of tablet. These are inert ingredients which have no chemical effect and do no alter the bioavailability of a chemical. A previous post stated that generic drugs may not absorb or act as quickly as brand. This is false as bioequivalence, or the rate and extent a drug is absorbed and used by the body, is a federal requirement of a nonbrand product to it's branded competitor.

    November 18, 2009 at 1:15 am |
  11. Gary

    Greed...pure and simple, it's world wide. People just don't care anymore except for themselves. Or to quote companies...."It's just business".

    Thank you

    November 17, 2009 at 11:46 pm |
  12. Brunton

    Yeah, I liken their lobbyists to the hit men in Juarez...
    Socialism should be considered here because of the basic nature of having medicine available and the abuses the industry continues to commit against Americans. Not to mention the fact that the bulk of all drug research is already paid for by the federal government. We should at least be getting royalties.

    November 17, 2009 at 11:12 pm |
  13. ebp1123

    So before we all argue about the difference in brand and generic drugs, how about if you actually understand the difference. A generic medication must be AB rated to the brand in order for it to be used without the doctor changing the medication. An AB rated generic drug also MUST have the same bioavailability (absorption and dispersion in the body) as the Brand name medication. Large pharmacies DO NOT get kickbacks from drug companies, in fact, many will NOT allow drug reps in their stores. Also, many patients go into the doctor's office with their own "knowledge" of drugs based on TV Ads, Magazine Ads and media reports and tell their doctor they should be on a certain medication, or that they are having side effects, which they are NOT in fact having.

    Moral of the story: Your physician and pharmacist can help you determine the best medication including cost-effectiveness for your needs.

    November 17, 2009 at 10:54 pm |
  14. Rand

    Generic drugs have the same active ingredients as name-brand drugs. They don't always have the same "other" ingredients, so while a generic has the same basic medicine, it may not absorb as well or act as quickly as a name brand.

    November 17, 2009 at 10:05 pm |
  15. Jeremy

    Seeing your drugs as an investment and not as a cost is the takeaway point here. Talking to your pharmacist is one of the best ways to maximize your savings, efficacy, and therapeutic outcomes with your drug regimen. Your pharmacist can work with your physician to get you the best drug at the lowest price for your condition.

    November 17, 2009 at 9:54 pm |
  16. Maria Radford

    Please forgive me if I'm wrong! Did I not see representatives from Pfizer and Roche (Hoffmann – La Roche – Swiss company) on CNN saying that they had to raise drug prices because of free market forces? Both of those drug companies have price controls imposed on them in most countries with national health care programs, if I'm not mistaken? Why do 'free market forces' only work in the 'land of the free and the home of the brave'?

    November 17, 2009 at 7:42 pm |
  17. Thomas

    They have to raise prices to pay for the massive lobbying effort and dis-information campaign against health care reform.

    Ever wonder how much of your health insurance premium goes to manipulating government to "insure" their profits? How much is going to sponsoring anti-health care reform commercials and groups like the Fox news "Tea Party"?

    I find it interesting to hear comments opposing health care reform that I know FIRST HAND were made up in a conference room as a major health insurer that I used to work for.

    November 17, 2009 at 7:33 pm |
  18. ES43

    I am a physician, and it is absolutely not the case that doctors get kickbacks from drug companies. We have as little control over the whole situation as the general public. In fact, we bear the brunt of the issue as our patients are constantly coming into the office unable to afford needed medicines. The issue is government regulation. Other countries make deals with big Pharma to place price caps on drugs as a condition for permission to market them to their citizens. Our government has been unwilling to do that, largely due to the republican pro-business lobby in Congress. American citizens are subsidizing low-cost drugs for the rest of the world.

    November 17, 2009 at 7:22 pm |
  19. Iroy III

    I am just stunned at the lack of sophistication of those who have commented so far. there is no conspirocy between doctors and pharma, in fact the Stark laws are written to probibit this. furthermore, pharmcuetical companies are businesses that spend billions developing drugs to treat an increasingly unhealthy population. as long as people deand a technological answer to their health problems there will be money invested to provide it, and a profit. how about people show some accuontability and take better care of their health. eat better, exercise, manage stress, sleep etc. americans are always looking for the quick fix and don't accept any resposibility for the own contribution to poor health. when a company invests in R&D to "fix" their problem they also want it cheap or free.

    November 17, 2009 at 6:28 pm |
  20. Bri

    The only reason they are doing this because they are anticipating the healthcare overhaul. They want their profits to be as large as possible when it happens to set the base and WE will be paying for this mistake. Hmm, maybe if the govt. would stay out of it we wouldn't have this problem? Possibly we would have a level playing field and TRUE competition if we did not have the oligopolies that are the main players now in health insurance and drug companies? Government involvement has this effect, it drives costs up and get's rid of the little guys. Just like the bank bailouts are doing right now. The huge banks are buying up the smaller ones with our $.

    November 17, 2009 at 5:58 pm |
  21. Jim

    Are you all so naive that you can't see the need for Pharmaceutical companies to profit? What do you think they do with the money they "corruptly" take? Simply line their pockets and go on cruises? That is laughable.

    The fact is, it costs serious $ to research molecules that will someday become life saving drugs. In addition, once a molecule is discovered, the amount of money it takes to fund studies to make sure it is efficacious and safe is very large as well. It takes between 10-20 years from the discovery of a molecule before it hits pharmacies for use. Can you not see the need for profit in pharmaceuticals? Wouldn't you want the industry that is producing life saving/altering products to profit? I realize we all want things at affordable prices, but the truth is, you get what you pay for. If you want a $4 generic drug, then you will get the equivalent of $4 health in its efficacy and safety.

    Think about this....if our pharmaceutical companies don't profit, how will they pay for the research and development of drugs that in 10-20 years might cure cancer, AIDS, parkinsons, MS, etc......? Don't complain in 2020 when there are no new drugs on the market and diseases that could have been solved are still ravaging our loved ones...

    November 17, 2009 at 5:46 pm |
  22. WAM

    Thanks AARP. Thanks for screwing
    the seniors, yet one more time !!!!
    Must I mention DONUT-HOLE.

    November 17, 2009 at 4:26 pm |
  23. Bonnie

    Recently I was given a prescription for which I was willing to pay, because the ins co. would not. However, when I inquired about the price at the local pharmacy, it was $890.00. Too expensive compared to the $369.00 that it can be bought for in Canada. Why is this so out of line, and when are the American people going to stop getting ripped off. It is criminal, and why no one is concerned about the pharmeceutical companies along with the insurance companies bilking of the American People is beyond me. Let"s get universal healthcare and prices like the rest of first world nations.

    November 17, 2009 at 4:25 pm |
  24. MJS

    isn't that about even with inflation?

    November 17, 2009 at 4:18 pm |
  25. disappointed voter

    Have you noticed the many drug ads on TV. How much of the costs of prescriptions are going for TV ads? Have you noticed the news media and political leaders are not talking about the wisdom of allowing these ads? Just like we are not even talking about campaign finance reform any longer. How much of today's political campaign money are being donated by pharmaceutical companies? This is probably another reason why drug companies will never bring down the costs of prescriptions.

    November 17, 2009 at 4:03 pm |
  26. WAM

    I have, on numerous occasions, contacted CNN about BIG PhRMA delibertly rationing the H1N1 Flu Virus. The manufacturers are with-holding the vaccine from the public in order to manipulate the course of the health care bill through Congress.
    This means that BIG PhRMA, with malice and forethought, killed americans for profit ! With impunity !!
    This also means that CNN is complicit in murder and neglient in performing it's duty. I first contacted CNN about this 30~45 days ago.

    November 17, 2009 at 3:38 pm |
  27. ronvan

    And so it goes!! Many people fighting tooth and nail to prevent health care reform and look what we get. These companies are going to raise prices until they can make up the lose they would face if health care is passed! Talk about crooks that should be locked up and the key thrown away!

    November 17, 2009 at 3:21 pm |
  28. Melissa

    My husband takes blood pressure medicine. The generic is only about $4. The brand name is $120. Read the description of ingredients and find out that they are almost completely different and the brand name actually works better. This kind of idiotic crap has got to stop.

    November 17, 2009 at 2:57 pm |
  29. Van T

    When my wife was in cancer treatment, she took a shot at home to help maintain her white counts. It was $4000 per shot. She took one shot each day. My pack from the pharmacy had 10 preloaded syringes, for $40,000. The scrip gave me 6 refills.

    November 17, 2009 at 2:15 pm |
  30. Steve M

    True we need lower drug costs. But lets not put the total blame on the drug companies, lets also pinpoint the Pharmacies. A recent areticle showed that many of thse places are charging upwards to 5000% to thier clients (you, me and the insurance companies) . Don't belive it, how do you think they can afford to put a CVS on every corner!

    In the city I live in, there are over 5 CVS's within a 3 mile radius. Many of the are right across the street from a Walgreeens, Tom Thumb or other pharmacies.

    According to reports COSCO charge 10% above thier price for all prescriptions. Examining mine, there is a big difference between COSTCO and CVS ( by as much a $200 for each refill).

    Not that I am promoting COSCO - BUT lets point the finger at the drug companies, but lets also take a real close the pharmacies selling to us.

    November 17, 2009 at 1:59 pm |
  31. Mike Byrne

    Please stop blaming the doctors and start blaming those who are actually getting paid off.... your local reps and senators. Why can't Medicare/Medicaid negotiate drug prices like every other country in the free world? Why do we continue to allow them to push drugs thru misleading advertising? Pharma companies profit margins are close to twenty percent vs. 3-4% average for other companies on the Dow. They say they need the profits for research but they spend less than 11% of their revenues on research. Also, there are not always generics available for each drug class. The health care bill has to allow for the gov't to negotiate drug prices! Personally I get all my families meds thru canadian pharmacies.

    November 17, 2009 at 1:41 pm |
  32. Jean

    Nancy – I take flagyl, the non-generic is coated blue pill, while the generic is non-coated white pill. The coating on the non-generic helps keep the medication from upsetting my stomach and causing severe nausea and a horrific metallic taste in my mouth. I have made every attempt to use the generic form of this medication, as it’s much cheaper than the $100/month I pay out of my own pocket. If I thought for a moment there wasn’t a difference, I would gladly pay the $15 for the generic. So, to answer your questions Nancy, don’t be fooled into thinking generic drugs are exactly like the non-generic versions.

    November 17, 2009 at 1:40 pm |
  33. Donald

    There are many issues intertwined here. These increases are prob. consistant with those of other years. Yes 9% is high but the increases have I believe been in that range. Funny it seems to be stressed now. To lower costs perhaps spending should be curbed. Maybe we should revert to the old ban on public advertising by the drug co. to the consumer. Gee wonder how much pfizer would save if they didn't ad for viagra. The public would still be aware and the savings could be passed on (if the ins co.s don't grab the savings first).

    November 17, 2009 at 1:35 pm |
  34. Steve

    The truth of the matter is Doctors have gotten kickbacks for years from the drug companies. Drug companies can hold a patent for 20 years. I have even heard of drug companies paying off generic drug companies so they won't produce the generic version. Also the price difference between the generic and brand isn't always huge. The price difference betwwen the brand Wellbutin and it's generic Bupropion is less than 10.00 when I called my local Walgreen's to compare. Many of the generic drugs are produced by the same companies that make the brand drugs too. Large pharmacies are also so in bed with drug manufactures. The pharmacy gets a steep discount and passes the mark up on to the consumer. We also have no price controls. It's perfectly legal for a drug company to charge 500.00 for a single dose. All of these things need to change.

    November 17, 2009 at 1:21 pm |
  35. Sandra

    PharamCo's prove how corrupt they are by raising prices for no apparent reason other than the possibility The American People will be getting a "break" in medical care, and they want to cover their bottom line. How much longer will we take this abuse?

    Sandra – Las Vegas NV

    November 17, 2009 at 12:15 pm |
  36. nancy

    I guess, I just don't understand WHY folks can't get the generic version of meds ~~ they are supposed to be the same. Makes me wonder if the Doctor is getting a kick back for insisting on using brand names.

    November 17, 2009 at 10:05 am |