Cornering the Generic Markup

Older generic drugs are not always a bargain these days.  A recent editorial (NEJM 2014; 371: 1859-62) highlights how some of these drugs have seen dramatic increases in prices.

  • Albendazole, an antiparasitic drug, used to cost $5.92 per daily dose. Now $119.58 per daily dose.  The total Medicaid costs for albendazole have increased from less than $100,00 per year in 2008 to more than $7.5 million in 2013.
  • Captopril, a blood pressure medication, increased from 1.4 cents per pill in 2012 to 39.9 cents per pill one year later.
  • Doxycycline, a commonly-used antibiotic, increased from 6.3 cents per pill to $3.36 per pill.

What’s driving these changes?  While these medications are not protected by patents or market exclusivity, some pharmaceutical companies attempt to corner a market and then unilaterally raise the prices.

Bottomline: Businesses that exert near monopolies don’t have to offer any “Black Friday” specials.

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