Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Street Prices of Rx Brand-Name Drugs Increase as Much as 400%!

Drug companies always claim that the wholesale price of drugs is not an good indicator of what patients, insurers, and the government pay. So a new study published in JAMA Dermatology looked at the retail prices 19 brand-name prescription dermatologic drugs sold at four national chain pharmacies in the West Palm Beach, Fla., area (Costco, CVS, Sam’s Club and Walgreens) in 2009, 2011, 2014 and 2015.

The authors found that between 2009 and 2015:

  • Prices of all surveyed classes of brand-name drugs increased; the average increase was 401 percent. Prices of topical antineoplastic drugs had the greatest average absolute and percentage increase of nearly $10,927 and 1,240 percent. 
  • Prices of drugs in the antiinfective class had the smallest average absolute increase of almost $334. 
  • Prices of psoriasis medications had the smallest average percentage increase of 180 percent. 
  • The retail prices of seven drugs more than quadrupled during the study period, with the vast majority of price increases occurring after 2011. 

“Percent increases for multiple, frequently prescribed medications greatly outpaced inflation, national health expenditure growth, and increases in reimbursement for physician services,” the study concludes.

There was one surprising finding.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Increased DTC Advertising and Rising Drug Prices - Is There a Causal Link?

There's no denying two facts:

FACT #1: Spending on prescription drugs is increasing dramatically. The Chicago Tribune, quoting data from IMS health, reported (here) that "Spending [in 2014] rose 13 percent [vs. 2013], the biggest jump since 2001, to a total of $374 billion" and

FACT #2: Spending on Direct-to-Consumer Advertising (DTCA) of prescription drugs is also increasing - more so, in fact. Kanter Media reported that the drug industry increased measured media ad spending by 19% in 2014 vs 2013 to $4.5 Bn (see chart below).
Click on chart for an enlarged view.
Is there a causal link between these two facts? Does DTC advertising raise the cost of drugs?

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Bernie Sanders Blasts FDA Commish Nominee Califf on Drug Reimportation

Senator Bernie Sanders laid into FDA Commissioner nominee Robert Califf during yesterday's Senate hearing. Here's a snippet of his comments regarding reimportation of Rx drugs as a means to lower drug prices - an issue of importance to 91% of voters (for more on that, read this):

Monday, November 16, 2015

How Kim Kardashian Got Hired to Shill for Diclegis by "Auditioning" in a Nutraceutical Ad

You may recall that the FDA sent a letter to Duchesnay Inc. because an Instagram post by Kim Kardashian promoting the company's morning sickness drug Diclegis violated the law (read "Kim Kardashian's Diclegis Instagram Post Raises Issues").

Some time afterward, Alex Peterson, SVP, Health Practice Director at Makovsky -- the agency that hired Kim to do the Diclegis Instagram social media campaign - claimed that Makovsky, through social monitoring, knew that Kardashian was struggling with nausea during her first pregnancy. She’d been talking about morning sickness for weeks (read this account).

No doubt Makovsky also knew that Kardashian promoted nutraceuticals years earlier in 2010. As reported by STAT, in a video ad for QuickTrim (see end of this post), "Khloe Kardashian rolls languorously in a tangle of white sheets and asks, 'Do you feel sexy? Do you have the body you’ve always dreamed of?' The shot switches to her sister Kim, shimmying out of a pool and commanding viewers to 'Create the body you deserve'" (read "Celebrity selfies, lax regulations drive booming supplement industry").

Makovsky claimed they reached out to tell Kim about Diclegis and found out that she was already taking the drug -- her doctor had just prescribed it.

But could Kim have been talking about her morning sickness as a prelude to working with Makovsky so that the above account by Peterson would sound perfectly plausible?

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