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Thread: Medication Prices in USA

  1. #1
    Flashaholic* PEU's Avatar
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    Default Medication Prices in USA

    I was amazed when I saw the price differences between the same drug from the same lab here in Argentina compared to USA

    Example:

    Merck Euthyrox 50mg x 50units

    Price in Argentina: $3
    Price in USA: Around $25-$30 (maybe our pharmaceutical wench can help with the exact price [img]/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/smile.gif[/img] )

    Thats a tenfold increase in price for the exact same drug. BTW, the one sold here is made in Darmstadt, Germany.

    I guess this is one of the explanations why I receive a large amount of spam related to online meds...


    For checking local prices go to:
    http://www.manes.com.ar/pgbd/bdprodresul.php (a local chain of pharmacies)

    enter the price in the box labeled "Nombre comercial:" and then press "Buscar"

    "Precio sugerido al público" is the retail price in pesos, divide by 3 and you have the amount in dollars


    Pablo

  2. #2

    Default Re: Medication Prices in USA

    Peu- First let me state I have no idea what euthyrox is in the United States. I would assume it is a brand of thyroid hormone which Merck does not market in the US.
    Second there is a very easy explanation of the high medication prices in the USA. THe problem is most people in the USA have some sort of insurance which picks up the tab- so the pharmacuetical companies have pretty much a free license to overchage.
    As an example. I have a patient who comes into the pharmacy where I work. He is on Actiq 1600mg and gets 120 for one month supply. I believe the wholesale price is ~$3200. His co-pay is nothing ( medicaid). It comes out of my and the rest of our citizens tax money.
    Now if I brought your prescription out to the counter and said that will be 3200 dollars please for your Actiq ( a pain reliever) most people would say what can I get instead or is there a generic. It doesn't happen because most people don't have to pay for it. Even if they have a copay ( say 5$) most people look at it as if they saved 3200 minus $5= 3195. THey didn't because this money could be in their paycheck if the drug was priced reasonably.
    Insurance companies and goverment benefits have created the problem. They don't save money by quote managing costs they increase them.

  3. #3
    Flashaholic* PEU's Avatar
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    Default Re: Medication Prices in USA

    Ron: Euthyrox is levothyroxine [img]/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/smile.gif[/img]


    Pablo

  4. #4
    *Flashaholic* bwaites's Avatar
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    Default Re: Medication Prices in USA

    Ronrph and PEU,

    That's a gross oversimplification of the costs in the US.

    Lets also factor in the BILLIONS the drug industry pays out in lawsuit claims every year in the United States, the lawyer fees, the cost of bringing a drug to market through the FDA process, and so on before it is simply laid at the drug companies door. Remember, also, that the biggest economy pays the biggest cost, since you can't get the billions in research costs back from an economy that won't support it. I've seen estimates that the US drug prices support 70% of all the drug research costs in the world. I don't know if that is true, but if you just compare costs with Canada and Mexico, it sure looks like it.

    Pablo, can you name a single drug case in Argentina where there has been a multibillion dollar settlement? I can name several right of the top of my head here.

    But there isn't a single factor, there are lots as seen above.

    Levothyroxine, even the name brands of Levoxyl or Synthroid, are less than $20, and less than $15 in some pharmacies.

    Generic levothyroxine is about half that, so 8-12 dollars.

    Still much higher, but you can thank our incomes for that as much as anything.

    Compare grocery prices, when I was in Argentina in the early 80's a gallon of milk was about 35 cents, a loaf of bread about 25 cents, a hamburger about 20 cents at a sidewalk cafe, a large pizza about $2. At the time milk was $1.89 here, a loaf of bread was about a dollar, a hamburger at McDonalds was 79 cents, a large pizza about $8-10.

    Wine was less than $1/damajuana there, and a LOT more here.

    Bill

  5. #5
    Flashaholic* flownosaj's Avatar
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    Default Re: Medication Prices in USA

    Here's another gross oversimplification--the US does not have the same laws that cap the price of medications like many other countries. Also, most countries can make a generic twin of the medication soon after it hits the market, further forcing the price of the drug down.

    The industry is left to make the majority of the money in countries that will pay the difference.

  6. #6
    Flashaholic* PEU's Avatar
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    Default Re: Medication Prices in USA

    You're right Bill, prices here don't reflect the expenses in R&D, if that was the case nobody would be able to purchase them...

    So big labs need to play the generics game, I mean sell for a little more than a generic or lose the market.

    Here there is a law that requires that all prescriptions be made by the drug name instead of the commercial one, so customer can choose at the counter.

    I used the levothyroxine example because an US friend asked me to purchase it here because of the higher cost there and because he does not have medical coverage... and no, he is not an illegal there, he is working with the proper visa.

    Argentina (and many other emerging markets countries) from time to time are pressured by the USA on this very issue of pharmaceutical patents.


    Pablo

  7. #7
    *Flashaholic* bwaites's Avatar
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    Default Re: Medication Prices in USA

    Most of the big pharmaceuticals are now based in Europe, especially after the last big round of mergers.

    PEU, about 1/3 to 1/2 of my patients are mailing presriptions to Mexico or Canada to get the best break they can on prices, your friend is not alone!!

    Bill

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