You might have experienced it recently. You go to the pharmacy to pick up your prescription that once cost you ten dollars and it now costs you hundreds. This alarming scenario is unfortunately becoming a common trend in the medication marketplace. For reasons that are not always immediately clear to the consumer, generic drugs that are relatively inexpensive for manufacturers to make spike dramatically in price over very short time periods, leading patients to pay an arm and a leg at the cash register. This can be especially problematic for patients without insurance, or with high deductibles. Why is this happening, and more importantly what can you do to limit the impact on your wallet?
The why is not always an easy question to answer. Each instance is different. While one drug may spike in price due to a shortage of raw ingredients, another may rise because of increased FDA regulatory requirements. However, more often than not, the rise in price is simply due to consolidation of generic drug manufacturers. As manufacturers merge, the competition in the marketplace dwindles. Unfortunately, as a result of this, many manufacturers know they are the only “players in the game” when it comes to supplying certain drugs, and therefore raise prices knowing the demand will still be there. Given that the United States is one of the only developed nations to not have regulatory oversight over drug pricing, there is nothing to prevent this price gouging from running rampant.
While drugs such as EpiPen have received widespread media coverage for their price increases, and rightfully so, there are countless others. Steroid creams for eczema, antibiotic creams for acne and rosacea, antidepressants, oral antibiotics, steroid suppositories, gallstone medications, pain relievers, and hundreds of others for many other indications have all seen their prices skyrocket.
Even if you haven’t noticed this yet, you may soon. These price increases are driving healthcare costs through the roof, causing insurers to implement higher deductibles on their plans. These high dollar deductibles introduce a certain amount of money a patient must pay before the insurance kicks in their coverage, thus often putting the patient in a difficult situation of choosing to pay for their $300 medication, or put food on the table.
So how can this be combatted? Unfortunately, from the consumer standpoint, not much can be done. Ideally, regulatory pressure will force manufacturers to rethink their pricing strategies. Until that time though, you are left to fight for yourself and search for alternative medication options.
However, affordable manufactured alternatives are not always readily available. One avenue to explore when facing high prescription costs is custom compounding. Compounding pharmacies like Pine Pharmacy are able to access raw ingredients and custom prepare medications to your doctor’s specifications. While a compounding pharmacy cannot mimic a manufactured medication, many times, there are very comparable alternatives that can be prepared at a fraction of the cost of the commercially available options.
A prime example is a drug such as vancomycin which is an antibiotic often used orally to treat clostridium difficile infections. Manufactured oral capsules can cost nearly $1000, but when compounded as a liquid, it can be made for as little as $100.
Unfortunately, rising drug costs do not look to be going away anytime soon. As a patient, it is important to stay educated on your options, and regularly research your alternatives. If you are facing high drug prices, use Pine Pharmacy as a resource. As your partner in health and wellness, we are happy to examine your options for you and will do our best to try and find you and your family a more affordable option.