The Rising Cost of Prescription Drugs

While it may not ever directly affect you or your family, many prescription drug prices for serious illnesses are reaching unheard of levels and leaving thousands to suffer. We all know about the shortcomings in the United States health insurance and medical system, but you obviously have a major problem on your hands when people with a quality health insurance policy can’t even afford the prescription drugs they need to survive. Patients have recently seen a huge increase in their co-payments for some of the more expensive prescription drugs. They’re having to pay somewhere around 20-25% of the drug costs - which can be extremely expensive when some drugs cost over thousands of dollars each year. A new drug meant for treating leukemia could cost some patients well over $10,000 a year, a price that most people simply cannot afford. Most of the rising costs are for Tier 4 medicines, typically used to treat some of the more serious forms of illness like rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis, and certain forms of cancer. Unlike many of the drugs in the other tiers, there are few, if any, cheap or generic alternatives to these medicines. This leaves patients with no choice, pay the outrageous prices for their medication or suffer the possibly dire consequences. And since there is a much lower demand for Tier 4 drugs, insurance companies and drug manufacturers can seemingly get away with these high prices. So what has to be done in order to balance these prices out and make these drugs readily affordable for everyone that needs them?

How can Costs get Balanced out?

Although it would be easy to blame the rising costs of prescription drugs on the health insurance industry gouging its customers, it’s believed that it’s actually the drug companies that are at the root of the problem. Insurance companies will always inflate their prices to make a profit, but this type of price increase seems to be coming more from drug companies responsible for producing the medication. What typically happens is a drug company creates a certain medication with substantial government assistance, then virtually monopolizes the product, so that there are no alternatives or less expensive generic forms of the drug. Most likely, the only way to reign in these prices would involve the government stepping in to negotiate prices and encourage generic competition. Clearly, something needs to be done to reduce the rising costs of prescription drugs in the near future, otherwise thousands of people will soon be faced with a medical and financial disaster.

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