I am proud that my senator, Jeff Merkley of Oregon, proposed legislation yesterday (11-29-18) that would regulate the price of drugs sold in the US to the median price of 11 other developed nations.
I heard Merkley interviewed yesterday on the Thom Hartmann podcast. He used Lantus insulin as a talking point to describe how we are being scammed by Big Pharma. The 11 comparator nations, Japan, Germany, the United Kingdom, France, Italy, Canada, Australia, Spain, the Netherlands, Switzerland, and Sweden, paid a median price of $62 for a vial of Lantus while we paid $373.
We need to rein in the out of control greed of Pharma.
There is no government provided health insurance in Canada.
I’ve lived in Canada all my life (just shy of 60 years), and have been insulin dependant T1D for 55 of those years.
It’s apparent that Canada’s “Health Care” system is widely misunderstood by those not living here.
Our provincial governments (thru the federal government) do provide virtually full coverage for hospital and doctor care
We don’t pay for procedures or visits to the doctors (in 95% of cases).
This healthcare does NOT extend to drug coverage. There is no national or provincial “Pharmicare”. There are private insurance plans available, but you pay $$ premiums for the coverage. My situation makes me virtually uninsurable, as I have 4 chronic diseases in addition to T1D that means insurance would cost more than the drugs I need.
I should add that one of my chronic condition meds (IVIg) is now covered by the government (unlike pharmacy scripts). It costs $100 per gram, and I’m infused 52 times a year. That’s 3,120 grams - I’ll let you do the math
Stuff like insulin, immunosuppressants, BP meds are either paid for by patient or partially paid for thru employer’s or individual’s paid health insurance.
Drug prices are out of control here. Insurance negotiates better prices and cuts deals with certain companies, and that is why one year they will cover Novolog and the next Humalog. (although you usually have the option of your doctor writing a letter and paying more of a co pay for a preferred drug) It seems they really take advantage of people without insurance.
I think someone is starting a non profit drug company to supply some common drugs, hopefully that goes forward. Because big pharma is riding high right now and they have lots of money they throw around to prevent restrictions and controls.
And on another note, I believe almost all the countries that provide government health care also have higher taxes to pay for it. And you will hear a lot of complaints about that health care. Too old for cancer treatment, a year to get a procedure done etc etc. The added bill to taxpayers would be huge and most people just don’t want to make less money because of the tax increase. Especially when people that work for corporations or the government only pay a smaller fee/copay for their care. The cost of health care isn’t cheap.
Terry - Our government regulates rather than controls certain drug prices.
The United States is unique in that it does not regulate or negotiate prices of new prescription drugs when they come onto market. (Most) other countries will task a government agency to meet with pharmaceutical companies and haggle over an appropriate price. These agencies will typically make decisions about whether these new drugs represent any improvement over the old drugs — whether they’re even worth bringing onto the market in the first place. They’ll pore over reams of evidence about drugs’ risks and benefits.
The US allows drugmakers to set their own prices for a given product — and allows every drug that’s proven to be safe come onto market. And the problems that causes are easy to see, from the high copays at the drugstore to the people who can’t afford lifesaving medications.
Believe me, if Pfizer, Roche, Sanofi, J&J or Lilly weren’t making handsome profits selling their meds in Canada, Europe or the rest of the world, they’d simply stop selling it there.
Please don’t get me wrong, I’m not complaining about healthcare in Canada. Most provinces have prodigiously low yearly healthcare fees (they might amount to $1200-1500 / yr) that covers most medical visits and hospital procedures.
The tradeoff is significantly longer wait times for everything, from knee or hip replacements (as long as 2 yrs or more) to more crucial treatments of diseases like cancer.
Most, if not all, provinces and territories do provide drug coverage for certain people. In Ontario, the Trillium Drug Plan is available to those who are low-income or whose prescription drug costs are more than 3% or 4% of after-tax income. I qualified for a number of years based on my high drug costs.
Worth noting that this is a common complaint in countries with some form of public health care system. My British and Swedish relatives complain about wait times just as much as Canadians do.
I personallly have no problems paying higher taxes for healthcare, just like I do for education or transportation or infrastructure. All these things contribute to safer, happier, healthier communities.
The Canadian system isn’t perfect, but it’s worked very well for me as someone with multiple chronic illnesses. I’ve benefitted from and depended on our healthcare system from the moment I was born, and I’m certainly glad I was born here.
My endocrinologist once said that high drug prices in the US subsidize cheap drugs in other countries. I saw this first hand when I lived in Mexico. I could buy a pen of Tresiba in Juarez for a fraction of the cost of what I would buy it for on the other side of the border.
As someone above pointed out, if US drug companies weren’t making profits selling drugs in other countries at lower costs, they would simply stop selling them in other countries.
It’s not just drugs that are more expensive in the US. From what I have seen, everything about the system (hospital visits, blood tests, other diagnostic tests, doctor’s visits, medications) costs significantly more on average.
Keep in mind that the US spends billions on healthcare infrastructure that does not exist in other countries. Massive for-profit insurance companies, pharmacy benefit managers, direct-to-consumer advertising, and unregulated healthcare costs are all US-specific aspects to the healthcare system that cost billions of dollars per year to maintain.
You are so right, Jen. The completely out of control corporate greed is embedded in our system and sustained by the corrosive effect of money on our politicians. Some people take false comfort in the idea that we have the best medical system in the world. By any rational measure the US ranks well behind other countries when it looks at things like longevity and infant mortality.
We spend more money on health care than any other industrial economy in the world. And we exclude a significant percentage of our residents from access to any mode of care! I’m hoping that things can be turned around politically, but things look bleak for now. I’m grateful that I have good access to affordable care but I know I’m paying more than I should be for what I receive.
I doubt that the insurance companies pay much more for insulin in the US than the list price in foreign countries. I use cartridges for Humalog and Lantus and list price in US on Humalog box of 5 is about $495 and I drive 2 1/2 hours North to buy in Canada and pay only USD 48 per box and the lantus is about USD 58 per box in Canada. I believe that this is all rigged by the insurance company so that they can charge you big premiums and then you are actually paying full discounted price with your co-pay. My copay in US is higher than list price in Canada. It is worth it for me to drive to Canada and buy a 9-10 month supply of each and bring back into US. Canada does not even require a prescription. You do, however theoretically need a prescription to bring back into US. I have never been hassled or asked for prescription re-entering US. I also travel quite a bit to China and India where prices are similar to Canada.
I can’t help but think that GREED is a big factor in the USA drug prices. I keep thinking about the guy that jacked up the price on the EPI pen just because he wanted to have bigger profits.
I don’t know if that ever got resolved but I remember hearing about it on the news.
I just don’t understand all the back room shenanigans when it comes to drug prices. There was a big expose by a local reporter about the claw backs on prescription drugs. There is a lot of hidden, secretive, stuff going on that the public may never know. There are those that are getting very rich off of drug sales.