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    When someone else pays, Rx costs soar

    Why are prescription drugs so expensive? It seems there’s no one answer to this question. Even in an election year, the major presidential candidates seem unwilling to even bring up the subject.

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    Bert BrachtmanGeneric drug prices began to skyrocket when executives figured out that if you buy another company’s product line, and that line includes a drug no one else sells, you can then legally charge whatever you want. You become a monopoly. We may not like Martin Shkreli, but I suspect his conduct with pricing Daraprim will be determined legal, simply not ethical.

    That was just one example of outrageous increases in prices of generic drugs. Other examples include generic Librax, Doxycycline, Pravastatin, Donnatal, Digoxin, and virtually every topical available, with an emphasis on anything ending in “azole”

    Drug costs are directly tied to the expansion of the insurance industry into the process of consumers receiving prescriptions after they’ve been prescribed.

    I started out many years ago as a stock and delivery boy in a local drugstore. I watched customers pick up prescriptions and pay for them. Those who were on public assistance had a different method of paying, but nobody went without needed medications. As welfare expanded, insurance companies became very involved, and something called third parties entered the scene.  

    Then, with so many people not paying directly for their prescriptions, the opportunity for companies to charge more materialized, and customers were suddenly caught between a rock and the proverbial hard place. Manufacturers raced to increase costs since the consumer was no longer the payer--it was the government, the union or, in some cases, private coverage.

    At the same time, the industry started producing NEW drugs--not simply combinations of older ones--that seemed to change the industry. Cures for certain illness, once thought impossible to treat, suddenly seemed to be within reach.

    Bert Drachtman, BS, RPh
    Bert Drachtman is a retired pharmacist living in Great Neck, New York. You can e-mail him at [email protected]

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