Monday, April 04, 2011

FDA cracks down on drugmakers, drugmakers crank up the prices

In an age of skyrocketing medical costs, it is in the Federal government's best interest to ensure our medicines are as safe and precisely targeted as possible. Enter the FDA, charged with regulating and monitoring drug safety. Unfortunately, their recent efforts to lock down drugs has resulted in 50x increases in drug prices for patients who can ill afford the cost, by creating pseudo-monopolies. Thus, increasing medical costs for everyone, including the Federal government.

Beware the well-intentioned bureaucrat!

Until January, colchicine was sold by many companies and cost as little as 10 cents a pill. Now it's available only under the trade name Colcrys, sold by a Philadelphia company called URL Pharma—for five dollars per pill.* The colchicine story, and a few others like it, have provoked ire among some patients and doctors about an otherwise praiseworthy effort by the FDA to get rid of old, untested, potentially harmful drugs.

Take the case of 17 alpha-hydroxyprogesterone caproate (17OHP), a synthetic hormone designed to prevent preterm births in pregnant women...The drug's retail price jumped from $15 to $1,440 per treatment, a shock to obstetricians and their patients, as well as to those who write checks at insurance companies and Medicaid. The tens of thousands of women who receive the treatment each year typically require 20 injections during the course of their pregnancies.
To be fair, though, it appears that the FDA is not entirely deaf to these complaints, and is taking some action.

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